Historical Markers StoppingPoints.com Historical Markers, Sightseeing & Points of Interest Scenic Roads & Points of Interest
About Us | Photo Gallery | Free Widgets | Featured States | Search Site
Home North Carolina Polk County City of Tryon Historical Markers The Block House

The Block House

US 176, Tryon, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 13' 28.3764", -82° 16' 13.0332"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Early landmark, western terminus of the 1772 boundary survey between N.C. and S.C. Stood 1/2 mile east."
      As early as 1750, the Block House site stood as a prominent landmark along the North Carolina – South Carolina line, although technically 300 feet within South Carolina. In 1756, the house itself was constructed as a trading post and soon thereafter was modified into a fortification by local settlers during the French and Indian War. Twenty years later, militia Captain Thomas Howard reportedly used the building as a staging ground for an attack on the Cherokee.

      Mentions of the Block House in the historical record are scarce. According to documents dating from 1809 and 1813, a structure called the Block House stood on the border between North and South Carolina near a cornerstone marking the boundary. On July 20, 1813, representatives from both states met and marked the boundary at the building. No further mention of the Block House appears until the Civil War, when it became a haven for Confederate deserters and local Unionists known by locals as the “Dark Corner.” The situation resulted in Major A. D. Ashmore of South Carolina requesting that an artillery battery be used in attacking the remains of the Block House however the assault never took place.

      After the Civil War, the Block House continued to be used as a hideout for highwaymen, and reportedly became a gambling institution. Reports indicate that a still existed on the property, as well as a fully functioning bar and a ring for cockfighting. However, by the late-nineteenth century, locals had driven out the remaining miscreants and shut down the gambling operations.

      In 1942, Carter Brown purchased the fort’s remains for a couple in Chicago. He subsequently renovated and modernized the building, repairing the dilapidated exterior and installing a bathroom. Oliver Campbell, then president of Converse College, purchased the property and moved the structure 300 feet north into North Carolina. Campbell added a new wing, a second bathroom, and a swimming pool. The property was then conveyed to Converse College.

      Gambling returned to the Block House grounds in the 1940s in the form of horse racing. Carter Brown began the practice, but Campbell continued it after his purchase, and convinced the trustees of Converse to allow the activity. The track is unique in that it is the only gambling institution in the nation owned by a college or university. The Block House Steeplechase still runs today every April, consisting of six races over a 5/8-mile course. The current purse for the main race stands at $30,000.

Sadie Smathers Patton, Sketches of Polk County History (1976)
Eugene Warner, “The Block House Races,” Holiday Inn Magazine For Travelers (April 1970)
Henry M. Wagstaff, ed., The Papers of John Steele, II, 821-822
J. B. O. Landrum, Colonial and Revolutionary History of Upcountry South Carolina (1897)
Clarence W. Griffin, Western North Carolina Sketches (1941)
Elizabeth Fenn, Peter H. Wood, and Sydney Nathans, Natives and Newcomers: The Way We Lived in North Carolina (1983)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
Explore other
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.

The Block House Historical Marker Location Map, Tryon, North Carolina