Poinsett Bridge – Travelers Rest, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Greenville County Photos  |  Poinsett Bridge

Located just north of Greenville, the Poinsett Bridge was built in 1820 and is believed to be the oldest surviving bridge in South Carolina.

Poinsett Bridge

David Vanover of Boiling Springs © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

It was named for Charleston native and US Ambassador to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett. Poinsett is also credited with bringing the poinsettia flower, which now bears his name, to the United States.

Poinsett Bridge Top

Ralph Mayer of Lexington, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The bridge was part of the original State Road, a toll road that ran from Charleston through Columbia to North Carolina.

Poinsett Bridge Marker

Peter Krenn of Rock Hill, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Constructed from locally quarried stone, the Poinsett Bridge was one of three stone bridges along the stretch of State Road referred to as the Saluda Mountain Road.

Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve

Ralph Mayer of Lexington, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The bridge features stepped parapet sidewalls and is marked by a 15-foot Gothic arch which forms the passage for Little Gap Creek, a small tributary of the North Saluda River.

Poinsett Bridge Arch

Walter Arnold of Hendersonville, NC, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

At the time of the bridge’s design, Poinsett was the director of the South Carolina Board of Public Works. It is speculated that Robert Mills, architect of many South Carolina buildings as well as the Washington Monument, may have designed the bridge.

Poinsett Bridge in Greenville

Blake Lewis of Greenwood, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Poinsett Bridge is listed in the National Register, which adds the following:

Constructed in 1820, the Poinsett Bridge is one of the oldest spans extant in South Carolina. Its impressive construction of wedge shaped rocks, erected without concrete, has pointed Gothic arches that are rare in the state today. The bridge was part of the State Road from Charleston through Columbia to North Carolina that was designed in 1817-1819 by Joel Poinsett, director of the South Carolina Board of Public Works. The bridge was named in his honor.

Poinsett also served as Secretary of War, Minister to Mexico, and first president of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, forerunner of the Smithsonian. It is believed that Robert Mills designed the bridge. Mills became State Architect and Engineer for the South Carolina Board of Public Works in 1820. A brush drawing by Mills of a bridge with Gothic arches and keystone identical to those of Poinsett Bridge lends credence to the belief that Mills designed the bridge.

Poinsett Bridge SC

Walter Arnold of Hendersonville, NC, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Poinsett Bridge Traveler's Rest

Peter Krenn of Rock Hill, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Reflections on the Poinsett Bridge

Contributor Ralph Mayer shares this about Poinsett Bridge: “This place means a lot to me as I was on the Aquatics staff and later the Aquatics and High Adventure Director of Camp Old Indian – about 300 yards up the road from Poinsett Bridge – for seven summers in the late 1960s through mid 70s. This bridge was almost like a part of camp for us. I spent quiet time reading on or by the bridge, jogged over it many days – all the while remembering that it was at one time THE road between Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC. I was jogging where horse and buggy used to travel. We’ve been known to wear out the bottoms of cut-off jeans sliding on the rocks below the bridge.”

Add your own reflections here.

Poinsett Bridge Info

Address: 580 Callahan Mountain Road, Travelers Rest, SC 29690
Website: https://www.dnr.sc.gov/mlands/managedland?p_id=39

Poinsett Bridge Map

Poinsett Bridge – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Poinsett Bridge, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

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9 Comments about Poinsett Bridge

Bradley Davis says:
February 4th, 2015 at 2:08 pm

One of my more poignant and serene memories I have from my youth….made many visits to the old Poinsett Bridge in my Boy Scout days when I was a camper at Camp Old Indian circa 1965 – 72. Beautiful spot.

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
January 22nd, 2015 at 7:31 am

Yes, Martha, there is a parking area across the street from the bridge. Enjoy!

Martha Tarwater says:
January 21st, 2015 at 11:50 pm

Would like to visit again. Was here 15 years ago, but had to park in the road. Is there a parking place now?

KathyNo Gravatar says:
May 27th, 2013 at 8:12 pm

What a wonderful surprise; we totally enjoyed this beautiful, old piece of architecture. Amazing! They don’t build bridges like they used to!

[…] SciWay’s website on the bridge with lots of great photos, including one by our friend Walter A…. […]

Susan BrewerNo Gravatar says:
August 13th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

My 2x-great grandparents, Pinkney and Martha Jane (Wilson) Burrell were from this area. His parents were laid to rest at Mt Pleasant Baptist Ch cemetery in Travelers Rest. They had a son named Poinsett (aka Piney), so I wonder if there is some significance in that. Is there a list somewhere that names those who built the bridge?

Ralph MayerNo Gravatar says:
March 27th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

This bridge is just down the road about 1/3 of a mile from Camp Old Indian, a Boy Scout camp where I was the Aquatics and High-Adventure director back in the 1970s. I have a few pictures where I was teaching a class on the bridge. You can see them at: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=rhm+poinsett&z=m

Jenny Gordon RuffNo Gravatar says:
September 16th, 2011 at 10:01 am

My great-great-great-great grandfather Samuel L. Gordon helped build this bridge — so awesome!

RayNo Gravatar says:
September 15th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I remember riding a school bus across the Poinsett Bridge in the early to mid 50s to attend Tigerville Elementary. It was one lane and someone had to wait to cross if another vehicle was approaching.


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