History of The Rock Golf Club and Resort
Once a great Cherokee Indian Village this beautiful tract of land was granted to Captain William Lynch for his service in the American Revolution (1780).
Thomas Price bought the property in 1852 and his son Pete served as a courier in the Civil War.
In 1920 the Chastain family purchased the land and built a spacious home in 1922 (the current clubhouse).
In 1977 the Chastain family sold the property to Haskett / Townsend realty and the Gauley Falls Subdivision was formed. In 1982 Mr. Haskett became the sole owner of Gauley Falls Country Club and developed the timeshare condos in 1984.
Table Rock Holdings* purchased the land in 1986 and developed the Whispering Falls residential area in 1989.* Bill Linkenholker – former CEO of Shoney’s.
Waterhead, LLC purchased the property in 1997 and changed the name to The Rock at Jocassee and further developed more of the land via the Woodmere areas.
In 2009 a private investment group took possession of the property and managed it until 2013 at which time the property was managed by Dave and Kathy Fleming who changed the name to Bear Valley Golf Club.
In 2015 Dr. John Walton (original Waterhead, LLC member) came back to manage the course and worked diligently to find a new owner. His financial support from 1997 (Waterhead) until 2016 kept The Rock open – although it closed briefly he did find new owners that were dedicated to revitalizing The Rock to the beautiful course it is today.
In 2017 Tommy Biershank and Anthony Anders teamed up to take possession of the course and invested in new greens, a completely remodeled clubhouse and brought the course back to life (opened 11-18-17).
Almost 30 private homes are in the area with over 200 acres still in its natural undeveloped state.
Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11
Officially known as SC Highway 11 – this 130 mile stretch from Gaffney SC to the Georgia state line is home to the base of the Blue Ridge Mountain Escarpment. Constructed in 1922 it was once part of the “CHEROKEE PATH” used by the Cherokee Indians and English and French fur traders. Echo’s of the Cherokee heritage can still be heard via the places and rivers named Seneca, Savannah, Keowee, Jocassee, Enoree, Toxaway, Tugaloo, Tokena, and Eastatoee.
SC Highway 11 also borders the three main water supply reservoirs that provide the drinking water for the city of Greenville SC…..Table Rock Reservoir, North Saluda Reservoir, and Lake Keowee. All three are man-made.
Lake Jocassee is located off the highway and is noted for it’s deep, blue natural water supplied by 4 rivers…Whitewater, Thompson, Horsepasture, and Toxaway. Filming for two major motion pictures “Deliverance” 1972 and “Hunger Games” 2012 took place in the Lake Jocassee area. The name “Jocassee” comes from the legend of a Cherokee maiden.
Table Rock Mountain and State Park are located just north of here ….the Cherokee called this area “Sha-ka-na-ga”, THE GREAT BLUE HILLS of GOD.
After the Hopewell Treaty of 1785, Europeans settled into the area known today as “Pumpkintown” – (named for the unusually large pumpkins grown there)…and featured a lodge that prospered until the Civil War.
With over 20 golf courses located along SC Highway 11 it could also be called “Golfers Lane!”
Old Toll Gate Road
Built in the late 1800s and managed by Thomas Price, the entry gate was at Mr. Price’s corn mill located at the base of Gauley Falls.
Two U.S. Presidents traveled this toll road: Andrew Jackson – 7th President serving 1829 – 1837. William Howard Taft – 27th President serving 1909 – 1913.
Mr. Price was chosen to lead the construction of this first road across these mountains and followed an existing Cherokee Indian Trail to North Carolina.
The toll was $.25 and The Old Toll Gate Road was used up until 1928 upon completion of HWY 178.
Hikers today still use the Old Toll Gate road to reach access to the Palmetto Trail and beyond from this very location.
The Signature landmark of Bear Valley Golf Club. Gauley Falls was once used as the power source for Mr. Thomas Price’s corn mill. Mr. Price bought the Bear Valley property (850 acres) in 1852 for the sum of $1900. The corn mill was used to grind the people’s corn, rye, barley, and malts for their distilleries.
The stream that supplies the water for Gauley Falls is Emory Creek which grows stronger and wider upstream – demanding extreme caution to all who seek to see this natural creek.
Two other streams** are located on the Bear Valley course – all supplied “naturally” from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains – and all in a “calm” state on the course …but if you should follow the streams up into the mountains you will find them much larger accompanied by large waterfalls and gushing gorges – making for very dangerous areas – it is worth the hike to see the changes that occur. ** Willis Creek, Oolenoy River
All the streams on the course are minor tributaries to the Saluda River which empties into the South Fork Saluda River near Pumpkintown and is part of the Santee River System.
Pinnacle Mountain & The Blue Ridge Escarpment
Pinnacle Mountain (3,415 feet) is the tallest mountain contained entirely within the state of South Carolina.
Table Rock Mountain (3,062 feet) is the second tallest Mountain and connects to Pinnacle Mountain via hiking trails that begin at Table Rock State Park.
This area is where the Piedmont Valley Region connects to the Appalachian Mountains and is known as the Blue Ridge Escarpment. The name “Blue Ridge” comes from the blue colored haze that can be seen at certain times when viewing the mountains.
The mountain you face when standing on #15 tee box is Pinnacle Mountain.
Pinnacle Mountain and Table Rock Mountain both are home to many “Petroglyphs” which are ancient drawings from Prehistoric Man dating in the Archaic Period of 2,000 B.C.
Although Sassafrass Mountain in the tallest “peak” in South Carolina (3,563 feet) it is not the tallest mountain in South Carolina due to the fact that parts of Sassafrass Mountain are located in North Carolina.
Captain William Lynch
Revolutionary War Captain William Lynch is buried about 100 yards across Sliding Rock Road from this area. His grave was discovered in 2003 while clearing the land to build a house. **
His Family Cemetery is located less than a mile from this area off HWY 11 via the “Lynch Cemetery” street sign. There are 44 tombstones (all Lynch family members) at the Cemetery.
The Cherokee Indians controlled the Bear Valley area until Captain Lynch was granted the land (1780) by the governor of South Carolina for his service in the Revolutionary War. The Cherokee sided with the British during the war and hence were forced away after the war.
Captain Lynch was a former member of the House of Delegates in Virginia and was known well for “Lynch’s Law” – a law he introduced as legislation to “whip Tories at the post” for stealing horses and/or other lawless acts.
Records also show Captain Lynch deeded property for “A CHURCH” in this area. It is not certain the name of the church, but Holly Springs Baptist Church is located less than a mile from this area.
He died in 1820 at the age of 78. His son “Nathaniel” served in the War of 1812. His grandsons ” Nathaniel Jr.”, “Gideon Moon” and “Bannister Stone” all served in the Civil War.
** Attempt to move William Lynch’s body to the Lynch Family Cemetery (across HWY 11) is underway.
The Jocassee Gorge
The land past the mountain behind the condos ahead is the beginning of the vast JOCASSEE GORGE – 43,500 acres of pristine, natural steep-sided gorges carrying surging rivers and mountain streams pouring into the Piedmont Valley region and The Rock. South Carolina owns the majority of the Gorge (33,000 acres). North Carolina owns 10,500 acres.
Recorded history of the area dates back to 1539 when Hernando DeSoto explored the area. In 1690 James Moore led an expedition in search of gold.
In 1785 General Andrew Pickens hosted a large gathering of Indian Chiefs on the banks of the Keowee River. A treaty was signed that gave all the “JOCASSEE GORGE” area to the United States, except for northern Oconee county – kept by the Cherokee until 1835 when another treaty was signed giving this last parcel to the United States. This controversial treaty granted the United States all the Indian Territory east of the Mississippi River.
Today, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources owns most of the JOCASSEE GORGE land and with agreements with Duke Energy, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and The Conservation Fund plans are in place to ensure the protection of this significant NATURAL and RECREATIONAL area for future generations. It is considered the only true “RAIN FOREST” east of the Rocky Mountains in the USA and connects with over 200,000 acres of already protected land in SC, NC and GA areas.
National Geographic Magazine ranks this area as #9 out 50 of the “World’s Last Great Places and Destinations of a Lifetime”.