Travelers Rest City
Travelers Rest City Hall is located at 6711 State Park Road, Travelers Rest, SC 29690; phone: 864-834-7958.
The Travelers Rest area has been an exceptionally beautiful part of the country since the earliest of times. Its rolling hills, mountain scenery, delightful climate, and unsurpassed mountain spring water make it the one of the garden spots of the world. As a result, it was the home to abundant wildlife, an ideal hunting territory for Native Americans, in particular, the Cherokee. In 1776, Native American tribes were forced to sign a treaty ceding the present Greenville County lands to the state of South Carolina. Evidence of this early Native American presence can be found in the numerous arrowheads, artifacts, and mounds that have been found over the past half-century.
Upon the formation of a state, a route for trade emerged. Using the old Native American trails, drovers and farmers from Kentucky and Tennessee herded their cattle, hogs, sheep, turkeys, and carried their corn and grains through the Appalachian Mountains, down to the ports of South Carolina and Georgia. The gently rolling hills of the northern portion of the county around which the present day Travelers Rest resides, offered an ideal place to rest after the often treacherous journey through the Appalachian mountain ranges. Because these first resting places were often just primitive campsites, people living in this region saw an excellent opportunity to offer these travelers a more accommodating place to stay in order to make a profit. So they opened up their homes as inns and provided land where the drovers' cattle could rest and feed before continuing their journey to the southeast. These drovers were so moved by this southern hospitality that the area became known as "Travelers Rest."
The Travelers Rest Post Office was officially established on October 10, 1808. It was once thought that the post office was located where the town is today; however, it was actually located six miles to the north at the intersection of Highway 25 and Highway 414, where Travelers Rest developed as a crossroads community, similar to Sandy Flat and Lima. Crossroads such as these typically emerged about five miles from one another in rural areas.
Owned and operated by Thomas Edwards, the original Travelers Rest Post Office was located in a portion of his inn/store for approximately ten years. Eventually Major Henry Ellis Lynch, who served as postmaster from 1831-1866, moved the post office farther south in 1831 to the southern corner of the present day Highway 25 and Tigerville Road.
In 1873, After Lynch's death, the stagecoach stop was once again moved, this time to the 14-room house of Colonel Robert Anderson. The house was actually built by Clevis Montgomery in 1851 and still stands today. The Charleston News & Courier said, "The house of Colonel R. Anderson is filled with boarders and they already put up the 'standing room only' sign. Colonel Anderson and his wife are untiring in their attention to the guests and everyone is made to feel entirely at home." In 1898, his daughter, Minnie Anderson Hillhouse, inherited, enlarged, and renamed the house to the Spring Park Inn. The inn, along with a park and pavilion, became the hub of the community, hosting baseball games, religious revivals, music events, and political debates. Adding to the popularity of the inn was the Carolina, Knoxville, and Western Railroad, which passed right in front of the house.
Towards the later half of the 19th century, many northern Greenville County residents wished to establish a railroad from Greenville to Asheville to encourage trade. Construction started in 1887 and made it as far north as the River Falls in 1909. Due to the difficulty of the task, however, the line was never completed. The northern railroad that was completed from Greenville to the northern portion of the county near Travelers Rest became known as the "Swamp Rabbit," because it followed along the lowlands of the Reedy River. While the Swamp Rabbit did not achieve the importance of some of the other lines in the county, the northern railroad was able to serve some mills in the northern portion of the county, such as Renfrew Mill.
In 1891, an application was made to the State Legislature to incorporate the town of Travelers Rest, and was passed by the General Assembly in December of that year. However, factions had begun to develop between the northern and southern portions of the town for a variety of reasons. As a result, the citizens of the upper part of Travelers Rest decided to withdraw from the town and petition for their own incorporation as the town of Athens in 1893. By the early 1900s, however, a lack of funding soon caused Athens an early demise and the whole village resumed the name of Travelers Rest soon after. This political split is important because the Athens Jail was built shortly after the town's incorporation. The Athens jail was the first of its kind in the northern portion of the county.
In 1959, the town of Travelers Rest, having grown to include 2,500 inhabitants, petitioned the Secretary of State to incorporate the town. On September 21, 1959, the city of Travelers Rest was granted a charter leading to incorporation. The corporate limits were designated as a one-mile radius from the intersection of Highway 25 North and McElhaney Road.