Walking up the pathway towards the luring sound of churning water, visitors to Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center - with reproductions of a blacksmith shop, two historical cabins, a cotton gin, a moonshine still, and more - are taken back in time from the very first moment they arrive.
Located about 3 miles north of Pickens, S.C., the site's focal point - an operating gristmill built in 1845 - is one of the oldest known mills still producing grain products in South Carolina today. At 20 feet tall by 4 feet wide, the mill has the largest waterwheel left in the state, and it's the only surviving one in S.C. that is made out of wood.
The facility is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. to tour the grounds and buildings, but each third Saturday of the month, special "Third Saturday" events are held, rain or shine.
These monthly mini-festivals - which can sometimes draw over 2,000 people - feature a variety of music and a small army of volunteers that offer historical folklife and traditional arts demonstrations on everything from blacksmithing to cotton ginning to chair caning.
In what was one of the site's most notable developments, Native American petroglyphs were discovered in 2003 on a rock outcropping located near the mill. Thought to be 1,000 to 2,000 years old, the rock carvings are protected by the S.C. Rock Art Center. (Open to the public three days each week: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10am-4pm.)
Entrance to Hagood Mill and the Third Saturday events are free. (Note: On third Saturdays there is a $5 parking fee.)