The South Carolina Scenic Highways Committee has been busy behind the scenes but its work is paying off in ways that make the Palmetto State more attractive to visitors and residents alike.
"It's been a good year," said Committee Chairman Douglas "Doug" McFarland, who represents the outdoor advertising industry on the committee. "We're recognizing roads that have intrinsic qualities ranging from rich history to beautiful scenery that offer opportunities for a vast range of recreational activities for the traveler."
The Committee was created by the General Assembly to review applications and make recommendations to the General Assembly on designating roads to become state Scenic Byways.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is a partner with the South Carolina Scenic Highways Committee in designating 22 routes on almost 500 miles of Scenic Byways throughout the state. Motorists can enjoy significant scenic, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, commercial, and economic destinations along these routes and the surrounding areas.
Committee members in addition to McFarland are Philip Gordon Powell, Vice Chairman, representing Parks and Recreation; Michael Covington, SC Department of Transportation Designee; William Edwin "Ned" Dargan, III., representing the Agriculture Industry; Julius Eldridge, representing the Hotel and Motel Industry; George Estes, SC Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Designee; Chase Howard, representing the Petroleum Marketing Industry; Vance "Van" Kornegay, representing Highway Beautification Efforts; Joseph "Peter" McGee, representing the general public; Mayo Read, representing the Tourism Industry; and Hal W. Stevenson, of the Outdoor Advertising industry.
Written requests for Scenic Byway designations are submitted local organizations to the State Scenic Byways Coordinator, Tesa Griffin, who is an SCDOT employee. She checks the details and brings the request before the State Scenic Highways Committee for review to determine a recommendation for action by the general Assembly.
The Committee reviews the application and rates the proposed byway by riding the road to get a first-hand look at whether it meets the criteria, which are based on national standards.
"It's a wonderful experience to look at the different kinds of roads and the different scenic values," McFarland said. "We're in a great state and we have a lot of assets we need to bring to the attention of our own citizens as well as the tourists."
The criteria for judging the applications include the road's scenic, historical, cultural, recreational and natural features.
"I just want to thank both the Committee and the Byway groups for working so hard to achieve success," said Griffin. "This is an example of volunteerism at its best."
At a recent meeting in Columbia, the Committee recognized the following two new State Scenic Byways:
The Western York County Scenic Byway (SC 161) begins at Kings Mountain National Military Park near the Bethany community and takes motorists through the Town of York to Historic Brattonsville. This scenic, cultural, and historic byway is approximately 70 miles. The historic features provide a glimpse into the history of western York County with important sites and structures dating from the Revolutionary War period through the 20th century. The corridor features three districts on the National Register of Historic Places and numerous individual sites and complexes.
The Falling Waters Scenic Byway (SC 107) begins at the United States Forest Service property line and ends at the state line, including S-413 from SC 107 to S-130 and S-130 from S-413 to the state line. This Scenic Byway winds through the rolling hills and forested landscapes of upper Oconee County.
Along the Falling Waters Scenic Byway you can find recreational trails, waterfall trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, vista points/overlooks, natural areas, and historic locations.
The Committee also recognized SC Highway 174 on Edisto Island. This is the fourth Scenic Byway in South Carolina to achieve the prestigious designation of National Scenic Byway. The other National Scenic Byways in South Carolina are the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway, Savannah River National Scenic Byway and Ashley River Road National Scenic Byway.
National Scenic Byways are exceptional roads through areas that exemplify regional characteristics. They possess distinctive cultural, historic, natural or other qualities unique among neighboring states. These nationally recognized routes are highlighted on the official state map.
The Edisto Island National Scenic Byway is a tree canopied 17-mile stretch of SC 174 that traverses salt marsh, creeks, maritime forests, farm fields and historic churches from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean. It was designated a State Scenic Highway in 1988 and designated National Scenic Byway on October 16, 2009 by US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
A list of all Scenic Byways in South Carolina is available at:
For more information, contact Tesa Griffin, SC Scenic Byways Coordinator, (803) 737-0013.
Photographs of a recent South Carolina Scenic Highways Committee meeting are available for download at: