The Iron Bridge Over Lake Summit

Iron Bridge entering Lake Summit from Green River Photo by Wendy Gilbert.
Iron Bridge entering Lake Summit from Green River Photo by Wendy Gilbert. | Source

The Iron Bridge

We may all be more familiar with notable bridges such as the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City or the the Golden Gate in San Francisco and the architectural designs of these enormous structures have become icons in our history. Each day these bridges carry traffic over huge bodies of water and certainly are notable in their design and beauty. Although not to be compared, a small bridge over Lake Summit remains a part of our history.

The "Iron Bridge" is a familiar landmark on Lake Summit, a lake built during the 1920's by Duke Power Company the provider of electricity for the residents of many Western North Carolina counties as well as parts of South Carolina and other states and is now Duke Energy. I had opportunity this weekend to ride on a pontoon boat around Lake Summit. As we began our ride at the headwaters of Lake Summit down Green River, we could see the beauty of this mountain river. Debris from recent rains were visible as well as wildlife such as ducks and geese that have found the waters a favorable habitat. Our journey began on the campus of Camp Greystone one of our areas summer camps which caters to girls from all over the world and was established in the 1920's. Our community club sponsored a fund raiser this weekend to make money which will eventually be matched by a grant to build a new park on the grounds of the old textile mill and the owners of Camp Greystone were gracious to allow us the use of the camp campus and a large building on the property (the Pavilion) to serve a dinner of barbecued pork. Local musicians provided entertainment throughout the day. Green River Mills built in the early 1900's became the main economic stimulus for our county and the village of Tuxedo was built on the properties they owned to house employees.

Water from the Green River provided electricity for the new mill and a dam was made on the Green River for the early power plant. The dam was originally under the "Iron Bridge" (see photo) The "Iron Bridge" spanned the Green River and connected the road that encircles Lake Summit and one other road, Old Mountain Page Road which meanders through the mountains passing through a portion of teh Greenville Watershed and finds its exit on Mountain Page Road near the city of Saluda, North Carolina. When Lake Summit was completed, a new hydro-plant was built farther down the Green River from the dam (Pot Shoals) and a flume line from the lake powered the generators.

As a youngster the bridge was a favorite place where the locals loved to fish. The concrete abutments were suitable to sit on and many camped overnight especially on weekends. Bass and crappie could be found in abundance as well as catfish. Today, the lake and the properties which surround the lake have all been developed by homeowners (in the beginning many were residents of Spartanburg, SC who built summer homes on the lake) and nice summer homes and boat houses surround this once pristine mountain lake. Local fisherman can now only use the lake during specified times and with some restrictions. As we passed under the Iron Bridge this Saturday evening, I saw several young boys fishing from the abutments of the old Iron Bridge and a group of teenagers above on the bridge who were having a party.

Swimmers and divers have found a certain intrigue at the "Iron Bridge" Some brave hearts have climbed the old structure and have dived into the murky waters from the high arches. The lake is deep enough at this point to accommodate such dives but with the old dam lurking below the surface, great care and wisdom must first be adhered to avoid the concrete of the old dam that lies under the surface. Some who became reckless have perished when diving not realizing what was beneath the bridge.

The "iron Bridge" was declared unsafe by our state DOT some years ago and a new bridge consequently was constructed. The Iron Bridge remains as a stoic reminder and a landmark we will never forget.

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Comments 3 comments

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

An interesting article. Good luck with raising funds to build the park

Kbdare profile image

Kbdare 4 years ago from Western US.

Good Hub and an interesting idea!

Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina Author

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