Moody Spring

June 22, 2023
Tom Poland

By Tom Poland


Rounding a curve on Highway 107, I saw water spurting from handsome stonework set in a mountain. Moody Spring, I knew we’d stop. I had no qualms about drinking the spring’s water. It had no taste. That’s what made it great. It sure beat plastic-bottled water and city water. But moody? Well, no moodiness accompanied my sip of water other than joy. Sipping that cold, clear water felt rebellious and I’ll add, natural.

Sipping nature’s water isn’t as easy or safe as it once was. We live in a time when folks advise you not to sip naturally occurring water. While in the mountains photographing waterfalls for two days, Photographer Robert Clark and I saw many a cold, pure brook and I wanted so much to get on my knees and cup that cold water to my mouth, but I didn’t. At Moody Springs I put apprehensions aside. Over the past two weeks I’ve enjoyed water from two springs: Blackville’s Healing Spring and now Moody Springs. One’s legendary for its healing water and Moody Springs has a story as well.

Fine stonework and benches grace Moody Spring.

Each time I’ve been to Healing Springs I’ve seen people from all over filling jugs, bottles, whatever can hold the elixir of life. I’ve written about Healing Springs several times and did so recently. It’s uplifting to think that the water springing from an aquifer does in fact possess healing properties. People sure believe in the waters down Blackville way. They have long made pilgrimages to this Barnwell County shrine. I brought back a gallon of the water, and tasting it right now I can tell you it’s sweet and makes me feel better.

As for Moody Springs, it wasn’t a dark and stormy night when Robert and I stopped at Moody Springs, and maybe that’s a good thing. It was a cool, cloudy day. Had it been a dark and stormy night we may have seen a hitchhiker. It surprised me to learn that Moody Springs is a place where some travelers driving Highway 107 have encountered a ghostly hitchhiker.

Legend holds that Upstate pilot, Larry Stevens, crashed near the spring on a stormy night in the 1950s. Drive along the spring on a rainy night and perchance you’ll see Stevens’s ghost by the roadside with his thumb out. Dare give him a ride? If you do, you may find a pool of water in your car or truck.

Robert Clark samples the cool water of Moody Spring.

This spirit of the Sumter National Forest came to be when his small aircraft encountered a sudden thunderstorm. The crash flung debris from his plane between Moody Spring and a nearby overlook. These days I know of no one who will pick up a hitchhiker, so I assume reports of those who did come from a previous era. Folks today are leery of hitchhikers and all too often with good reason. The reports claim some folks winding along SC-107 picked up the hitchhiker between the spring and the overlook. Once the hitchhiker reached his destination and drivers dropped him off, he vanished. He does, however, leave that pool of water in your vehicle. I read of no harm done by this spirit hooking a free ride with passersby.

And what of that name, Moody Springs? Well, the spring takes its name from a family that settled there back in the early days.

Should you find yourself driving along Highway 107 and you come across the spring, pull over and park. Sit a spell on the handsome rock benches and try the cool water springing from a mountain. If it’s a hot day in summer, a thunderstorm may rumble up and a visitor, perchance, might join you.


Georgia native Tom Poland writes a weekly column about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and culture and speaks frequently to groups in the South. Governor Henry McMaster conferred the Order of the Palmetto upon Tom, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, stating, “His work is exceptional to the state.” Poland’s work appears in books, magazines, journals, and newspapers throughout the South.

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