I think that Brown’s Branch was sort of considered
the unofficial northeastern limit of the Pacolet Mills Community. It flowed
into the Pacolet River on the north side below the Old Mill (Mill No. 3).
It was not very wide nor deep. I am not sure why some small streams are
named “Branches” and others just like them are named “Creeks” but so it was.
It was always surprising, particularly in the hot summertime, at the drastic
temperature change in going down the hill to cross the branch. It was like
the area was air conditioned and there must have been at least a 10 degree
difference to the normal temperature away from the branch.
However, the most noteworthy thing about Brown’s Branch in the 1940’s
and 50’s was the small iron bridge across it. The bridge was on the highway
between Pacolet and Gaffney and is today known as Hwy 150. And small is
the right word to describe it. It was only about 30 feet long and had only
one lane. It was so narrow that cars could not pass on it. One had to wait
until the other car had crossed until they could proceed.
This narrow one lane bridge gave me one of the most terrifying moments
of my teenage years. I must have been about 15 years old and was driving
back to Pacolet Mills from Cherokee County. My Dad was in front of me driving
his truck and I was following him in our family car. This car was a heavy
1947 Lincoln with a 12 cylinder motor. It was so heavy that we often had
brake problems with it.
There is a long incline at least a mile long leading down to the bridge
and a car could build up quite a bit of speed even if just coasting. I realized
that my car was speeding up as I was going down the incline and I tried
to slow it down. I pushed in the brake pedal and it went all the way down
to the floorboard. Nothing - no brakes at all. Becoming frantic by this
time, I furiously pumped the brakes with absolutely no results. The car
was gaining speed and the one lane Brown’s Branch bridge was getting closer.
I came in sight of the bridge as I rounded the curve at Spakes store.
The car was going very fast and there was a car on the bridge coming towards
me and one or two in line behind it. Fortunately, off on the right side
of the road there was an open, fairly flat area. Having no other choice,
I drove into that open area and was probably doing 50 or 60 miles per hour
when I left the road in a great cloud of dust. I steered in a big circle
somewhat like you see celebrating NASCAR divers do today in “cutting doughnuts”.
They do it for joy, I did it out of panic. After going around in 2 or 3
circles, the car came to a stop and I was able to breathe again.
My Dad came back to check on me. He was not very excitable about those
kind of things. He said something like “Well you did the right thing, we’ll
have to fix those brakes.”
About 200 or 300 yards downstream from the bridge, a small stream flowed
in to the branch. On its way to the branch this stream flowed behind Spakes
store and under a little bridge on what is today known as Colony Road .
In the late 1930’s this little stream was dammed just below the bridge
to make a sizeable pond. On the weekends many men and boys would come to
swim in this pond. My Dad took me there about 1940, when I was 3 years
old and I can remember it clearly. I had never seen people swim before
and the memory has stayed with me.