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Pardo Stone at the Spartanburg Regional History Museum

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Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.
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Downtown Spartanburg clock, sculpture, park, benches
The vibrant city of Spartanburg was founded where Spanish explorers once led expeditions across the region.

When we think about South Carolina history, the Civil War and Revolutionary War often come to mind. But between the time when Columbus discovered the New World and before French and British immigrants began building cities, South Carolina saw its share of explorers trooping through, looking for gold or anything else to make venturing into our swampy thick forests worthwhile. But in the Upstate, it was what one of them left behind that eventually became a prized part of Spartanburg history: a granite-like rock called the Pardo Stone.

Discovery

Stone with etchings
Centuries-old etchings indicate the Pardo Stone likely served as a trail marker.

In 1935, an Inman farmer discovered a stone etched with an arrow and the year "1567."  It is believed to have been a trail marker from a 1567 expedition led by Spanish explorer, Juan Pardo. The relic was validated in 1936 by historian D.D. Wallace, who wrote in the Hispanic American Review that it was unlikely a fake because the average South Carolinian would not have known enough about the expedition to create a convincing artifact.

The Pardo Stone, which is about the size of a legal-sized notepad, 4-inches thick, is now part of a permanent exhibit at Spartanburg Regional History Museum. Visitors can see this interesting find and learn all about Pardo and other milestones in Spartanburg history.

Pardo's South Carolina Travels

Mountains, valley and trees
Juan Pardo's explorations took him through the area of the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway.

Pardo took an expedition from the Spanish Fort San Felipe on Parris Island near Beaufort to an area about 15 miles southeast of Augusta, Ga., then due north to the mountains. He then traveled east to the Wateree River in the center of the state and back to Beaufort.

Historians think Pardo followed trails between the Cherokees in the South Carolina foothills and the Catawbas in what is now York County. The 1567 expedition was to visit Fort San Juan - an outpost Pardo established a year earlier in the Appalachian foothills.

Visit

The Spartanburg Regional History Museum (864) 596-3501, 200 E. John St., is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Guided tours are offered for a small fee for groups of 10 or more. Call for details.

Page Ivey
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.