When the Glendale - Cifton Road was First Paved
Story furnished by Clarence Crocker

The Spartanburg County Commission under the leadership of Mr. E. C. Burnett, Chairman, announced through the Spartanburg Herald on August 11, 1932 that steps preparatory to surfacing the Glendale/Clifton road had been taken and that the project would proceed as planned.

Surfacing of the 5.4 mile dirt road from Glendale to it’s intersection with highway #8 (old Converse/Cowpens road?) via Clifton # 1 was expected to cost approximately $12,000. Money for the project was to be advanced by the County board and would be repaid by the proceeds of the gasoline tax. Bids for furnishing the crushed stone were to be sought at once, with work expected to begin very soon. 

This writer remembers the project well. The road ran directly in front of our home, dividing some of our farm land. Being a county road, the construction crew was primarily county prisoners. Chain-gang camps where the prisoners stayed were strategically located throughout the county. One was located about a mile above our house on the Glendale/Fernwood road at the intersection with the Sloan Grove road. Another was located on Chain-Gang Hill road just above Clifton #2 mill. 

Example of a chain gang but not in Glendale.

Before they could surface the road it had to be prepared with top soil. Using teams of horses and mules with drag pans, wheel barrows, picks, shovels and rakes they took top soil from our land as they did from most all farms along the road in order to smooth the roadbed for surfacing. Most days, traffic was maintained on the road while the top soil work was being done. One day, following a day of rain, a Pepsi truck came along and got stuck in the soft clay. The prisoners got around the truck, lifting and pushing and were able to get the truck on the road again. Most every prisoner snatched him a drink or two as the truck pulled away. The guard seeing what happened, hollowed, stopping the driver but when told what had happened, the driver thanked them and asked if they all got one, if not “come get one” he said. 

After the soil had been placed on the road bed, crude road graders (modern at that time) smoothed and packed the roadbed. On the day of surfacing traffic was detoured and trucks would spread the gravel, which was smoothed by road graders, with prisoners using shovels and rakes continuing to smooth the gravel where needed. 

After the road had been smoothed, a truck spread boiling hot tar over the gravel covered roadbed. A spur line had been built off the electric trolley carline just above our house in front of the old Sloan place on which a tank of tar was sidetracked for use on the highway. The tank was kept hot 24/7 until the tank was empty. A truck spreading a fine gravel put a finishing surface on the road. 

Everyone up our way was glad to see the road paved. With very few cars in the neighborhood, not only did the mill workers walk down a muddy road in the rain to work on rainy days unless they rode the trolley, but all of us kids walked about two miles a day to school and back. There were no school buses for elementary school children at that time. Fact of the matter, all village streets were dirt, covered with cinders taken from the mill boilers. Folk, believe this voice of experience when I say one doesn’t know what the pain of a skinned knee really feels like until they have fallen on a cinder covered road. 

Today, the Glendale/Clifton road is a State highway and is maintained by the State Highway department. Since 1932, it has been slightly modified and resurfaced many times. The last time the road was modified was due to the construction of the new Glendale Bridge. (Story of the new bridge to be printed soon) The curve which carried the roadway into the village flat and behind the Mill Store onto the bridge was bypassed with a straight road from the bottom of Highland Street across the bridge into the Glendale/Whitestone road. 

Incidentally, in 1932, the Glendale/Clifton road which had been built to replace the old Georgia road, ran parallel with the Old Georgia Roadbed in front of our house. Opened in 1805 as the “Federal Road Route” which was later to be known as “The Old Georgia Road” started in Savannah, Georgia running through the Cherokee Indian Nation into and through South Carolina into Tennessee. It was considered a major transport route of that day.

The road had been discontinued just beyond our house due to a large gully on the Sloan property that was fast encroaching upon the roadway. The gully had been caused largely by the runoff of the roadway waters which were diverted when the new road was built. The old Georgia road bed was then and is today part of the drive way in front of four of the Crocker family homes. The gully has been filled in with highway and sidewalk debris generated from new road and sidewalk construction in and around Spartanburg.

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