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The following information was supplied by Maxie Duke a close friend and hiking partner of Sid Ballenger.  In her own words:

   

            Sid Ballenger standing outside
                  Walhalla High School 


                                          Addendum to SID'S FALLS for www.walhalla.co.

                                                                Maxie W. Duke
                                                                  July 10, 2011

                                          

          It is difficult indeed to add anything to what has already been written or said about Sidney Holmes Ballenger, Jr., his life and times, or his love of the great outdoors, the wonders of nature and “what God hath wrought.”  Please read through the following added messages concerning “The Chaser of Waterfalls” and if error is found, correct.

          Sid Ballenger and his two friends, John Danner and Maxie Duke, began their search for waterfalls in Oconee County while attempting to hike the Bartram Trail.  Their first jaunt began off Highway #107 to the Chattooga River and ended in the parking lot on Highway #28, believed to be about seven miles long.  It felt a great deal longer than that, the day it was hiked.  The conversation, as we walked and talked, centered on the waterfalls, pools, wild flowers, and wildlife tracks encountered along the way.  Somehow, an allegiance was formed to search for the waterfalls in the area. Later it became Some Waterfalls, Shoals & Cascades, of Oconee County, South Carolina,  nine hand-published books documenting the sites with hiking distances and a locater map.  Sid insisted on the title “Some,” firmly believing that all the waterfalls in the immediate Oconee area had not been documented.

          After Sid’s untimely death in 1991 at age 73 it was suggested that a waterfall should be named in his memory.  Thus began the search for a new, unnamed waterfall.  David Hedden, a Forest Service Ranger, declared he knew of a falls without a name; he proceeded to show the falls to Maxie Duke, a hike that began as though going to Long Creek Falls, but took a sharp turn to the left about half-way down the mountain to the Chattooga.  Following dry and wet branches, turning this way and that, no trail available, the creek known as “Shoulder Bone Branch” was discovered.  And there, in plain sight, was “Sid’s Falls.”

          The Forest Service thought differently, however, saying that unless a person had been associated with the falls for a period of time (as in a grist mill, for instance), the name could not be given.  Petitions were circulated.  Numerous folk lent their names (124) to the petition which read:

 

          “We, the undersigned residents of Oconee County, South Carolina, living in the area of the Town of Walhalla, request that the following waterfall located in the Sumter National Forest be named ‘Sid’s Falls’ to honor the memory of the late Sidney Holmes Ballenger, Jr.  The waterfall is in Sumter National Forest, Oconee County, SC, and is located on Shoulder Bone Branch which feeds into the Chattooga River.”

          When the petitions were sent to the U. S. Department of the Interior, the following statements were attached:

          “Sid Ballenger and two friends, Maxie Duke and John Danner, spent many hours hunting, photographing, and documenting the waterfalls in Oconee County, SC.  As a result of their efforts, a hand-published book entitled “Some Shoals, Cascades, and Waterfalls in Oconee County, SC” was produced, copies of which were presented to the Oconee County Library in Walhalla, The State Library in Columbia, the County Planning and Development Commission, Walhalla High School, Walhalla Middle School, and the Stumphouse Ranger Station (Andrew Pickens District).  These books have been widely used by the State Wildlife Magazine, citizens of Oconee County and visitors wanting to hike the trails to see the beautiful falls.  A slide show was also developed which was presented to countless civic and church groups, garden clubs and individuals throughout Oconee County and as far away as Sumter, SC.  The waterfall that is in question was never visited by Sid and his friends; they simply did not know it was there.  Most of the waterfalls visited and documented in the book and slide show were already named, or had names by association.  The waterfall on Shoulder Bone, as far as it is known to this writer, has no name.  Naming a waterfall for Sid Ballenger, who loved these woods, trails and scenic by-ways, is a small, small token to his memory.”

          This biography of Sid was included in the material sent to Washington:

          “Sidney Holmes Ballenger, Jr., 73, was the husband of the late Caroline Thode Ballenger.  He died November 9, 1991, at Greenville Memorial Hospital.

          A native of Walhalla, he was the son of the late Willie Howard and Sidney Holmes Ballenger, Sr.  A graduate of Wofford College, he held a Master’s Degree in Education from Clemson University, and taught in the Oconee County School system serving as vice-principal of Walhalla High School after teaching math, science, and driver’s education for a number of years.  He was a veteran of World War II, a member of Blue Ridge Masonic Lodge #92, and a member of St. Luke United Methodist Church.

          Other than teaching, and his family, Sid’s greatest love was the outdoors and doing “things” for other people.  He had great civic pride, and in his later years enjoyed the trails and beauty of his own surroundings.  He would often remark about the wonders and natural attributes of Oconee, and was a great fan of the US Forest Service and its efforts to maintain the beauty and natural habitat.  One of the closing slides in the slide show concerning “Some Shoals, Cascades, and Waterfalls in Oconee County, SC,” was the sign ‘Pack It In—Pack it Out’ placed by the Forest Service in strategic sites.   “Generally,” he would say, “folks are doing that.  The woods and the Chattooga River are in the best shape I can remember.”  And, “I like to know that my tax money is going for things like that,” speaking of a new trail bridge or improvement.  He would have loved “Sid’s Falls” on Shoulder Bone Branch in the Sumter National Forest just because it is there.

          Katy Rogers Aldredge made the sign SID’S FALLS and put it on a stout pole.  Jim Mayer, with his late wife, LouAnne, and several other pioneering spirits, including this author, carried the sign into the falls, dug a hole and placed it there, in spite of the ruling by the Department of the Interior. The falls on Shoulder Bone Branch have been known as “Sid’s Falls” ever since although the sign has been washed away.  With the arrival of GPS, a new way has been discovered to get into the Shoulder Bone, and a trail has been blazed.  The old way, via Long Creek Falls, was closed forever when Opal, a mighty hurricane, visited the mountains, downed the trees and closed the access.

 

Maxie W. Duke

July 10, 2011
 
 
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