Hike and Explore Historic Glenn Springs, SC

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Have you visited Glenn Springs, SC? This historic community was once known for its healing mineral spring and historic figures who were known to visit the spring. You can explore the area on foot with a hike or a driving tour. Kidding Around Contributor, Liene, visited with her family. From animals along the trail, to historic buildings and stories of the area; here’s what they discovered in Glenn Springs, SC.

The country roads in the Upstate hold all sorts of secrets: old battlefields, Native American sites, drive-up movie theaters and quirky stores… Americana from a by-gone era, and modern-day wayside stops. On our recent hike with the South Carolina 7 Expedition we found ourselves in Glenn Springs, SC, an unincorporated community in Spartanburg County, and what we discovered there was a lot of history for such a little place!

Glenn Springs historic sign

The Mineral Springs in Glenn Springs, SC

Not far from present-day Pauline, SC, there is a spring. The waters from this spring are said to have healing properties, and for over one hundred years were visited by people who came to enjoy their waters. According to the Glenn Springs Preservation Society, it was a Cherokee medicine man that discovered the mineral properties of the spring.

Later, legend has it that soldiers returning from the Revolutionary War with various skin ailments came to the spring for its healing powers after finding that the minerals in the mud cleared up their health issues. Even George Washington was said to have stopped there to try the waters on a trip to neighboring Georgia. Recent water analysis shows calcium, sulfur and magnesium compounds, lending credence to the idea that the water had special properties.

In the late 18th century, the springs and the land around them were granted to a Henry Storey by the king, and then in 1825, John B. Glenn bought the land and opened an inn. The inn was so popular that ten years later a large hotel was built, one that quickly gained a reputation for elegance and comfort – and of course the water. A bottling facility was constructed, and at one point a railroad connected the inn to Roebuck, SC. 

J W Bell owned Glen Springs from the 1930s until 1970. When the hotel burned down in the 1940s, it was never rebuilt, but the J W Bell Company in Spartanburg kept bottling the spring water in gallon glass bottles, 12,000-15,000 cases a year being shipped throughout the US and Europe until the Great Depression.

Historic photos from Glenn Springs
Historic Photos found in Old Stone Church, located near the Glenn Springs Preservation Society kiosk. Photos show a bottle label and the Glenn Springs Hotel.

Glenn Springs, SC Today

While you will not find a bottling plant or fancy hotel, the Glenn Springs Historic District and Williams Place are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If your family is interested in visiting, here is what you need to know!

Your first stop should be the Old Stone Church (3700 Glenn Springs Road). Built in 1908, the property was restored by the Glenn Springs Preservation Society in 2013, the old stone church is now an event and community center. The neighboring wooden building was originally the Cates Store, used as a Sunday school building until 1961.

The wooden kiosk at the site has plenty of information on the area, as well as driving tour brochures that feature 23 historic structures, most on the National Register of Historic Places.

Take the Glenn Springs Driving Tour

The brochure features a list of the Glenn Springs sights, including whether it is still standing, the address, and if it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel was located near the Old Stone Church site, as is the spring – the entrance to the original springs and the bottling plant was off what is current-day Boys Home Road, across from the Episcopal Cemetery.

Also on the tour is the Browning Home, which was haunted by resident ghost “Willie” who would knock over floor lamps and turn on radios until he was asked to leave in 1992. Nearby Camp Hill got its name after British Army Major Patrick Ferguson and his loyalist militia camped on the site in 1780, prior to their defeat by Patriots at the Battle of Kings Mountain, and today features a Greek Revival style house built in the 1830s.

The Storey Cabin, built by Henry Storey after he obtained the land grant from King George III in the 1750s, is located near a second spring (that feeds Storey Creek) and is still owned by the Storey family. The Old Jail House could hold two people, and was once a stagecoach stop before being used for storage, and the Glenn Springs Post Office (and saddler’s shop) has been restored and moved to the very center of historic Glenn Springs.

Trailhead for the Glenn Springs Passage of the Palmetto Trail
Glenn Springs Passage Trailhead

Glenn Springs Passage of the Palmetto Trail: Go on a hike

The Post Office can be accessed from a parking lot at 3670 Glenn Springs Road. This is the parking area for the Glenn Springs Passage of the Palmetto Trail, which connects Croft State Park to Stagecoach Road. The Passage is unique in that it traverses mostly private property, in contrast to most of the Palmetto Trail which is located on state and federal public lands.

From the parking area, follow the connector trail behind the kiosk for a third of a mile to reach the Palmetto Trail. From this point it is a little over 3 miles north to Croft Park, or 4 miles south to Stagecoach Road. For more information on parking and the trail, please visit the Palmetto Trail Glenn Springs Passage page.

We found the hike to be easy to moderate, though it did involve walking along roadsides for short distances, not ideal for children. Mountain bikes are allowed on most of the trail, and there is a bypass for the section that doesn’t. Highlights for us were the farm animals we saw (chickens, goats) on the farm next to the trail on the south end of the Passage, historic Glenn Springs, and Mineral & Storey Branch creeks.

Goats on the Glenn Springs Passage of the Palmetto Trail
Goats seen along the Glenn Springs Passage trail

Things to Do Near Glenn Springs

Glenn Springs provides a great stop during a day of exploration in Spartanburg County. Old Stone Church could be a great picnic spot, while the driving tour offers an opportunity to rest after a hike. A short drive away are several other attractions:

Walnut Grove Plantation is just 15 minutes away in Roebuck. In addition to the home and outlying buildings, visitors can also view the property’s cemetery and walk a nature trail, or enjoy a picnic at the pavilion. Walnut Grove Plantation recounts how free and enslaved people settled the South Carolina Backcountry, fought for independence, and built a new nation.

Once an army training base, Croft State Park covers more than 7,000 acres of rolling, wooded terrain just a few miles from downtown Spartanburg. The Park offers over 20 miles of biking and hiking trails, a playground, picnicking and camping, as well as fishing and boating in one of two lakes. 20 minutes north of Glenn Springs is Glendale Shoals Preserve, featuring a 1928 pedestrian bridge, trails, mill ruins and gardens.

About the Author
Mother of four young boys, Liene is constantly on the move since returning to Greenville in 2012. Whether she’s exploring the state parks and natural areas of the Carolinas or teaming up with other moms to organize activities for the kids, she’s always searching for the next adventure in the Upstate. For everything from hiking, travel, cooking and crafts to multicultural & global education posts, visit her blog, http://FemmeauFoyer2011.blogspot.com.

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