Walhalla, South Carolina: Abandoned Stumphouse TunnelThe railroad wanted to get to Tennessee, but all they got was 1,600 feet of South Carolina.
- Stumphouse Tunnel Rd., Walhalla, SC
- Four miles northwest of Walhalla on Hwy 28. Be careful of the winding road. Only one sign for the tunnel, and that is at the turnoff, which is a right (heading northbound) onto Stumphouse Tunnel Rd. Dangerous coming out.
- Daily 9 am -4:30 pm.
Visitor Tips and News About Abandoned Stumphouse Tunnel
The tunnel would have been over 1.1 miles long if completed; the longest tunnel in the world at that time. This was done without dynamite. They dug from both ends and also dug down in four spots and then outward. There is a hole up to the mountaintop in the tunnel where the outside met the first shaft. It is almost always raining in the shaft and cold air pours out the opening. Bring a lawn chair to sit and chill in front of the tunnel and a flashlight to explore it.[Marion, 08/30/2012]
The blurb about the Irish workers being slaughtered by Confederates is garbage. For one thing, work on the tunnel ceased prior to 1861, when the war began. For another thing, there would have been very few, if any, Confederate troops stationed in Walhalla (except maybe some Home Guards)...and no, Andrew Pickens would not have been the commander because he was a Revolutionary War general and would have been long dead during the War Between the States. Also, these workers were hired by the state of South Carolina government (not the U.S. government), so why would South Carolina troops kill them?
Despite all this, Stumphouse Tunnel is a wonderful place to visit and its true history is just as fascinating as the fiction nonsense. Many workers were killed by cave-ins and black powder explosions and there was once a village here where the Irish workers lived called Tunnel Town. It had its own Catholic church, blacksmith shop, and saloon. In the 1950's, Clemson used the tunnel to cure blue cheese, as its temperature is a constant 50 degrees year-round. There are also some interesting Indian legends involving Stumphouse Mountain and Issaqueena Falls.
Issaqueena Falls is located inside the same park and is an easy 5 minute hike from the parking lot. Bring a lunch -- there is a nice picnic area provided. Bring a flashlight -- the tunnel is very dark.[Tiger Chad, 07/23/2009]
Irish immigrants built Stumphouse Tunnel for a railroad, which would connect the North and South. If you are a good hiker, you can hike atop the tunnel and about halfway down the top, you can find a graveyard.
The graves are hard to find and only marked with piles of stones, or large rocks, actually mined from the tunnel itself. The graves are those of the Irish men killed while constructing the tunnel. It must have been treacherous work; building a tunnel so deep into the mountain with such primitive tools.
Growing up in Walhalla and being an amateur historian, I did some digging & found a much darker tale about the graves. I've heard from several locals that many of the graves belong to men wounded while working and the others were (supposedly) slaughtered by Confederate soldiers, stationed in the town of Walhalla.
The story goes that when the Gray's stationed in Walhalla got word that the Yankees had won the war, they were destitute. They had no money to pay the Immigrants working on the tunnel. They didn't want an uprising, or political problems from across the big pond, so they went up the mountain and slaughtered the remaining workers and buried them atop the tunnel with the men who died while working. They covered it up by saying that the men had died in a rock slide and nothing was ever thought of it.
Another version I've heard says that the workers got word that the North was closing in and that that Confederate currency was no longer in print. They called a meeting with the Confederate Colonel station in town and demanded to be paid! The Colonel (who sometimes is depicted as Andrew Pickens, but I sincerely doubt this to be true) ordered his men to kill them and bury them atop the tunnel with the others.
Whatever happened there, the graves are still there & they cast a sad shadow on this wonderful place.
There are two other tunnels in the vicinity, but they are hard to find & it can be a dangerous hike. The last time I visited them, one was completely filled with water & the other looked to foreboding to enter, but it's a fun hike if you're up to it.[Nikki Miller-LeCroy (Muze), 10/30/2008]
The tunnel was built by hand by Irish workers hired by the State of South Carolina to build a railroad to connect Charleston, SC to Knoxville, TN. Three tunnels were to be built, but none were completed. The workers used black powder for explosives. Be sure to go to the two waterfalls there.[John Stevenson, 03/22/2005]
The Blue Ridge Tunnel is in Stumphouse Mountain West of Walhalla, SC on SC hwy 28. It was being built before the civil war to connect the east coast with the mid-west by the Blue Ridge Railroad which dead ended at Walhalla, since they never finished it after the war because it was 150 feet up the side of the mountain on the other side from the entrance. Clemson Univ. used it to make Blue Cheese in for years.[C. Ray Bell, 02/05/2000]
Built in the 1850s by the Blue Ridge Railroad. They wanted to cut all the way through Stumphouse Mountain, but the contractor went bankrupt after 1600 feet. Bring a flashlight.