Soapstone Baptist Church

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General Information

Places to see: soapstone boulders (just outside the church)  with views of Table Rock and Caesars Head Mountains; the new Soapstone Baptist Church; one-room black schoolhouse (built in 1928 or 1929); historic Slave Cemetery. Other nearby sites to visit: Oolenoy Church and historic cemetery; Aunt Sue's complex; Table Rock State Park; Caesars Head State Park.

Local Geology

The land mass that eventually became South Carolina began as a continental fragment, separated by a narrow sea from an arc of volcanic islands to the east. As the African continental plate collided with the North American plate, rocks of the continental fragment and island arc were slammed into each other and then pushed further west, heating and twisting them into metamorphic rocks and creating the characteristic southwest/northeast trends of the southern Appalachians. As the plates collided and over-rode each other, the friction and pressure melted some subterranean rocks into magma, which eventually cooled and formed masses of granite deep beneath the surface. Further mountain-building and subsequent erosion gradually raised and exposed these massive igneous and metamorphic mounds into distinctive peaks and bare rock surfaces, such as Caesars Head and Table Rock.

One of the more interesting geological outcomes of this metamorphism and volcanism is the creation of minerals from combinations of chemicals mixed under extreme heat and pressure and varied degrees of moisture. For example, when magnesium and silica combine chemically under certain conditions, the mineral talc is formed. Talc is extremely soft and feels “soapy” to the touch. Pressurized and heated deep beneath the surface, talc and other minerals may form a metamorphic rock called soapstone. Soapstone outcrops on the prominent knob next to Soapstone Baptist Church.

Since soapstone is soft, Native Americans used it for pipes, bowls, and utensils, and early settlers used it for tombstones, including some in the Slave Cemetery and others at Oolenoy Cemetery.
Please do not take rock samples or carve into the soft stone.

For further information, see: Carolina Rocks! The geology of South Carolina, by Carolyn Murphy (Orangeburg, SC: Sandlapper Publishing Company, 1995).
 

 


For more information contact
Mable Clarke
296 Liberia Road
Pickens, SC  29671

(864) 414-8470

 
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