Ascent of Williamsburg County High Point on 2014-10-21

Climber: Tom Layton

Others in Party:Charles Zerphey
Date:Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Williamsburg County High Point
    Location:USA-South Carolina
    Elevation:96 ft / 29 m

Ascent Trip Report

I felt a little like Christopher Columbus on this one. I went looking for a shortcut through Williamsburg and "discovered" a whole new corner of the county--where I am convinced the highpoint is located.

The COHP maps showed 29 possible high-point locations in 95-foot contours scattered along the northern tier of Williamsburg County. I had a hunch we could narrow those down with some help from the county GIS office. So in 2013, Charlie Zerphey and I visited the courthouse in Kingstree while doing some easier COHP's nearby. The folks in the office didn't have the contour maps I hoped to find, but they gave me a link to their GIS site. It does not show contours, either, but does have a feature that allows you to click on a location and get the GIS spot elevation.

Once I got home and studied this site, I discovered a couple of discrepancies.

1. The northern boundary of the county is marked incorrectly on the USGS Mill Bay quad (though it is correct on DeLorme). Instead of cleanly following US378/Turbeville Highway, the Williamsburg/Florence county line also encompasses a 170-acre triangle north of US378 bounded by Osbourne Road and Green Road/S-21-485. Most of this area is in the 95 contour that COHP designates as Area 4.

2. There is a small corner south of US378 near Area 1 that is evidently in Florence County. This appears to eliminate spot elevation 98 at the junction of US378 and Spring Road, which is the highest spot elevation I've found in Williamsburg County.

I gave this information to a GIS specialist and asked him to remap the contours of Williamsburg County using GIS elevations and the corrected boundaries. Land ho!

We found a low ridge crossing Osbourne Road that appears to be about 1-2 feet higher than the 97-foot spot elevation at the Osbourne-Green Road intersection. That would make it 98-99 feet in a county that doesn't have a 100-foot contour. Indeed, GIS shows it at 98.4. Not far north in Florence County, there is a 100-foot contour on the USGS maps. If you're looking closely for the Williamsburg COHP--bless your heart--start here at at N 33.89035 W 79.85687.

Heading east on US378 from the town of Turbeville, look for unpaved Osbourne Road on the left as the main highway bends slightly to the left. Take this road about 0.7 miles and park just before reaching a row of three mobile homes on the right. The vacant yard on the right seems to be the highest natural land in the vicinity. (You can ignore the landfill to the southeast.)

We also explored a wooded area south of Osbourne Road that GIS indicated as a potential HP. However, I believe this was a glitch in our map.

We did not visit the other Williamsburg COHP candidates, but I've explored them on the county GIS site. The only comparable reading I found is along Piney Grove Road behind the church cemetery, where there is a very small ridge along the tree line that rises abruptly 3-5 feet and crests at 98.7 at N 33.87326 W 79.88059. I suspect this may be a dumping area for the cemetery. Still, it deserves exploration. The large Area 1 shows a couple of 96-foot spot elevations on the USGS maps, but I found nothing higher than that on the GIS site. Other than the dubious cemetery ridge, I have not found any point in Williamsburg that's within two feet of the Osbourne Road site.

I welcome evidence to the contrary, but right now I feel confident in claiming the Osbourne Road site as the COHP.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6 ft / 1 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.2 mi / 0.3 km
    Trailhead:Osbourne Road  90 ft / 27 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack

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