Since early in the nineteenth century, extreme northeastern Greenville County, especially the remote, rugged environs of Glassy and Hogback Mountains, has been known as the “Dark Corner.” Although opened to settlement following the Revolutionary War, the area remained sparsely populated well into the twentieth century. Its antebellum inhabitants were subsistence farmers who gained a reputation at the county seat for being poor, uneducated, prone to violence, and fiercely independent. They were staunch Unionists during the nullification and secession crises and on the outbreak of civil war were slow to support the Confederacy. “Few Dark Corner men . . . have volunteered,” a Greenvillian wrote in August 1861. “It is to be hoped that some light will yet break upon their darkness.”
The isolated hills and hollows of Dark Corner were a haven for Confederate deserters during the war and in succeeding decades for countless illicit whiskey distillers. For many cash-strapped mountaineers, the financial rewards from making and marketing untaxed moonshine far outweighed the risks of detection by federal revenue agents. As one Dark Corner native put it, he “could make three gallons of corn whiskey from a bushel of corn and sell it for one or two dollars per gallon when he could only get sixty cents for his corn.” The same individual recalled that there were “as many as twenty distilleries in two miles of each other.” Some struggling families left Dark Corner early in the twentieth century, seeking employment in Piedmont textile mills.
Improved roads after World War II made Dark Corner more accessible to outsiders. By the 1990s a stream of affluent new residents, principally retirees and commuting professionals from Greenville and Spartanburg, had discovered the spectacular mountain vistas and relatively inexpensive land of one of the most culturally and historically unique sections of South Carolina.
Batson, Mann. The Upper Part of Greenville County, South Carolina. Taylors, S.C.: Faith Printing, 1993.
Crain, J. Dean. A Mountain Boy’s Life Story. Greenville, S.C.: Baptist Courier, 1914.
Huff, Archie Vernon, Jr. Greenville: The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.
Lawrence, James Walton, Sr. Hogback Country. Landrum, S.C.: News Leader, 1982.