TR, Travelers Rest, SC history and real estate are interesting. Yes, it is spelled correctly. The weird spelling is how it was originally incorporated. The modern city of Travelers Rest, South Carolina, is home to over 4,100 people in the rural areas in Greenville County, SC.
It is so named for a very long history of being a handy place to stop just before or after heading across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Situated at the base of "the great wall" and at a natural pass, the area was a crossroads of Native American travelers for perhaps thousands of years.
Today, over 60% of the property in Travelers Rest is owner occupied, and fewer than 10% of rentals are unoccupied at any given time. The climate is relatively mild, with less than a month of snowy weather per year. The town itself covers less than 10 square miles, so Travelers Rest real estate (especially new development) is on the outskirts of the "town." Recently Travelers Rest has seen a flurry of growth not limited to a new Walmart supercenter and surrounding shops. With the new Greenville rails to trails project (where existing railroad lines will be converted to trails which are part of Greenville Falls Park downtown along the Reedy River corridor) and improved highways from Asheville to Greenville coming through Travelers Rest this area is set to boom.
Archaeologists have excavated at the town site to discover several hundred years of settlement history going as far back as 3,500 years. The famous Mississippian Culture that is among the oldest in North America, built and defended a city here. Several burial sites have been uncovered in the area, including one in a man's cellar. The remnants of wattle and daub-constructed homes have also been found. The Catawba, Creek and Cherokee tribes have since occupied the area.
The area now known as South Carolina was part of the Cherokee Nation in 1755, when the Eastern section of the state was ceded to the State of South Carolina. Some early "cowboys" wandered into "Cherokee Country" and brought their animals up and down the hills along Native American trails. A trading post to serve them was set up at what is now the city of Greenville. The Cherokee were driven off their remaining lands in South Carolina in 1776 and the area was opened up to settlement after the War of American Independence.
Near the area the Reedy River Baptist Church was founded in 1778. Lands were granted to a group of Revolutionary War veterans in 1784 including about 20 families in the immediate area. The first road was constructed in 1794 as a route to Knoxville, Tennessee. The Overton plantation was established in 1799 to farm cotton and fruit orchards with the assistance of an average of 50 slaves until emancipation in 1865. First named Golgotha for the skulls found as part of the Mississippian burial site it was situation atop, the name was eventually changed to Travelers Rest for the increasing amount of traffic that sprung up in the region as settlers began moving out with their covered wagons to settle the county.
The fledgling settlement soon shared a name with the plantation. At that time, shepherds often came by with their flocks and were known in the area as "drovers." Soon they and other travelers could stay at the Bishop's Inn that included a pen to keep animals in while their owners stayed. Small farms slowly began appearing in the area. A post office was established in 1808 with stagecoach-delivered service. The Jackson Grove Methodist Church opened in the 1830s and one room schoolhouses taught an elementary education as more settlers moved into the area.
For European and American settlers during the 18th and 19th centuries, it was not uncommon for people to find themselves spending an entire winter in the area and the local economy thrived supporting the guests. In 1888 a railroad line, then known as the "Swamp Rabbit" came through town, causing a divide between the upper and lower parts of town. When Travelers Rest incorporated in 1881, the upper section of town incorporated as the comparably-sized town of Athens. Twenty years later, Athens original charter had run out and was absorbed by Travelers Rest into a town of about 200 people.
Industry came to the town in 1929 when a bleaching facility and mill were built. Many people came to take advantage of the industrial jobs that were created after World War II. Plants included garment factories, a "Zonolite division" of W.R. Grade, embroidery plants, and a curtain company. Though much of the industry went into decline in the 1980s with the closure of the mill, the population of about 2000 has roughly doubled since the 1960s. Today the town is becoming a bedroom community to the greater Greenville metropolitan area now that the Greenville Real Estate market has picked up so precipitously.
Interestingly, the town was incorporated twice. When this was discovered in 1959 that the town's original articles of incorporation were for a period of 30 years, a special letter was sent to the South Carolina Secretary of State to have the town formally incorporated as Travelers Rest - with it's funny spelling - in Greenville County, which he duly did.
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