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Traveler’s Rest

By Tom Poland
web posted August 7, 2015

LIFE DOWN SOUTH – This day trip could well evolve into two days or more. An 86-mile journey northwest will take you to Traveler’s Rest, a town reinventing itself. Travelers Rest has long been a place where travelers stopped on the way to and from places like Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a town with a touch of European ambience. It’s a town with wonderful shops. From ice cream to white lightning, from kayaking the Green River to cycling the Swamp Rabbit Trail, it offers a lot.

It’s pleasant in the hills. Many compare the rolling hills along the Swamp Rabbit Trail to the peaks and vales of France and Italy. A weekend or a few days here in cool October have to be invigorating.

Cycling is huge in Traveler’s Rest, thanks in large part to legendary cyclist George Hincapie who now lives in Greenville, another close-by attraction worthy of a day itself. The town that once received Conestoga wagons now welcomes cyclists and tourists by the droves.

Today’s Traveler’s Rest benefits from Greenville’s transformation. When Swamp Rabbit Trail hikers and bikers hopped into town it mean a shot in the arm as business goes. Cafes opened and so did the Swamp Rabbit Brewery. An old general store went transformed itself into an outfitter that caters to bike enthusiasts.

Travelers Rest went from a place on the way to somewhere to the place to go. Turning an old railway bed into a greenway rejuvenated the town in a big way. People are even buying homes in Travelers Rest thanks to the Swamp Rabbit Trail’s allure.

Locals refer to Travelers Rest as “T.R.” T.R is close to the legendary Dark Corner in northeastern Greenville County. A rugged, some say forbidding part of Appalachia, it was long home to outlaws, superstition, and moonshiners. John Connelly, proprietor of Copperhead Mountain Distillery, said moonshiners set up a still on every creek and branch possible. Nobody can say with certainty where the name came from, but in 1832 Governor Perry referred to the region as a “Dark Corner.” Isolated from the rest of the state, the Dark Corner’s economy depended on its distilleries.
Relive the past. Wander into Copperhead Mountain Distillery to see how moonshiners made their magic elixir in small copper pots. Over 21? Try a sample! Dine at the Whistle Stop at the American Café, the Upstate’s oldest restaurant. Family owned since 1945, the food is great and be sure to check out memorabilia from the days when the old Swamp Rabbit steam engine, #110, “hopped like a rabbit” through Reedy River swamps.

Check Trailblazer Park’s schedule to see what music group is performing. Enjoy banjos and blue grass music. Talk to Sunrift Adventures about floating the Green River Gorge. Walk Main Street and note all the great murals. And when you’re done checking out the shops, take a break. After all, you are in Traveler’s Rest.

If You Go …

Traveler’s Rest http://travelersrestsc.com/

Trailblazer’s Park http://www.trailblazerpark.com/

Copperhead Mountain Distillery http://www.therumtrader.com/copperhead-mountain-distillery-tour/

Sunrift Adventure http://www.sunrift.com/

Whistle Stop Café http://www.whistlestopattheamericancafe.com/

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