Academics Documents Students

A class trip to Charleston, 1889

This article, from the December 1889 issue of the Wofford College Journal, details some of the exploits of Wofford’s Class of 1890 as they took a senior class trip to Charleston, by rail, a few weeks before Thanksgiving.  Student travel was no doubt as enlightening to them as it is to our students today – and no doubt, as nerve-wracking to their professor as it is to our faculty today.  And some of those sights remain popular in the Holy City as they did in 1889. 


A Senior on the campus is quite a different individual from a Senior off the campus. This fact was clearly evidenced a few weeks ago. The noon train from Spartanburg to Columbia, Nov. 12, ‘89, pulled out of the car shed with a precious burden in the shape of the entire class of ‘90 bound for Charleston, under the escort of our genial Professor of Greek.

Wofford’s Class of 1890

Once in motion, all ideas of Senior dignity vanished. Stiff necks and urbane countenances gave place to lounging postures and Freshman grimaces. Not until we reached Union, however, did the true genius of the crowd display itself. At this point of our route an extra coach was tacked on, of the which we at once proceeded to take possession; leaving our genial Professor in blissful ignorance two cars in front to peruse at his leisure, the programme of the Gala Week. From this point to Columbia we held high carnival, for the melodious strains of “By, by, my Honey, I’m gone,” “Hang the Facul-tee” etc. etc., completely drowned even the roar of the rushing train.

We reached our destination at 10 o’clock P. M. and immediately instituted a diligent search for lodgings. At the end of two and a half hours, our entire party, not excluding our courageous escort, was peacefully ensconced upon the billiard tables of the Waverly House. Billiard tables not being a faithful field for Natural History investigation it was but natural that a science loving Senior class should soon tire of them. Accordingly as soon as day dawned, we betook ourselves to the Battery to see the sun rise over the bar and the thermometer fall below a stiff sea breeze.

We next visited the Charleston Museum, which is a great place and contains many wonderful things. Among other things there is a skeleton of a donkey. This struck one gentleman with particular force, and while contemplating it in wrapt attention he was overheard to murmur: “How wonder-and fearfully we are made,” or words to that effect.

We “did’, the most prominent places of interest in the quaint and historic old town, including Magnolia, the Citadel, St. Michael’s, Sullivans lsland, the Harbor, the Medical College, White Point Gardens, Fort Moultrie and the News and Courier. We regretted very much that lack of time prevented our visiting the Charleston Hotel.

Three days in the city served to satisfy our sight-seeing propensities, and accordingly most of us packed our Saratogas and, Saturday morning, left behind us the City by the Sea, famous for cyclones and great men, earthquakes and wiggle-tails.

We reached home safe and sound and have resumed “the even tenor of our Senior way.”


By Phillip Stone

I've been the archivist of Wofford College and the South Carolina United Methodist since 1999. I'll be sharing college, Methodist, and local history, documents, photographs, and other interesting stories on this blog, which I've been keeping since December 2007.