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PBS' HISTORY DETECTIVES Season Seven: Episode 11

David Brinkman believes this marker on the Broad River Bridge is incorrect. He believes Sherman’s army crossed the river upstream, not downstream as the marker indicates. He asks HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray to determine if the evidence supports his theory.

Elyse uses this cool piece of technology called a gradiometer to pick up the clues that clinch our case. This machine measures electrostatic feedback from the soil and draws a picture of the centuries of traffic along the bank of the Broad River. We pinpoint where Sherman staged his troops before crossing the Broad River.

Credit: Sarah Gregory
Producer: Lion Television and Oregon Public Broadcasting

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Spring 2009: PBS's History Detectives comes to Columbia to investigate the Broad River Civil War Bridge story. The S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, The S.C. Department of Archives and History, The State Archaeologist, and myself, all take part in the story. The mystery is solved. See it in the season finale of History Detectives (in Hi-Def) on September 7th, 2009 (Labor Day) at 9PM EST (8PM CST). The show will also be made available (after Sept 7th) on the new PBS Video portal at:

Fall 2008: Biggest finds made in almost 4 years of research: Detailed 1867 and 1870 Engineering Surveys of The Columbia Canal on the Broad River. The location of the 1870 Broad River Bridge and Ferry is shown. Remains have been found at the 1870 bridge location site on the west and east side of the river. Could this be the Confederate bridge site? Could the 1870 ferry site be Stark's old ferry site (and Sherman's Pontoon crossing point)?

Click here to see the 1867 and 1870 surveys.

Click here to see photos of the site.

Spring 2007: Error found in Mills 1825 Lexington/Richland Atlas. The canal on the Broad River is shown as being 1 mile long. This has been proven wrong with an 1806 plat, an 1820 Blackburn/Coate map, and numerous historical documents. The Blackburn/Coate maps are an amazing find and overlays show an exact matching of today's Broad River Road, Bush River Road, North Main Street, and River Drive. The maps also show the McGowan and Stark ferry crossing points. This all agrees with the newly found 1867 and 1870 surveys. There is now no longer any doubt about the location of these Ferries and Bridge.

Fall: 2007: A newly discovered 1865 S.C. General Assembly Petition places the burned Confederate Bridge below Stark's old Ferry site and just above McGowans old Ferry site.

Fall 2007: An 1858 book (Part one of: The Annals of Newberry: In Two Parts By John Belton O'Neall, John Abney Chapman) places the 1858 Broad River Bridge at the site of the old McGowans Ferry.

Fall 2007: A second bridge abutment has been found about 100 yards downstream of the other abutment off Castle Road. Based on historical documents, this would be the first (1791) Columbia bridge across the Broad River.