Have you heard of the Stone Stairs of Death?
If you haven’t but have walked down to River Street, you’ve undoubtedly seen them. The Stone Stairs of Death (SSOD) is the perilous descending steps leading fearless adventurers from Bay Street to River Street. The daring journey down these 33 historic steps is a treacherous pathway that dates back centuries. The enigmatic origin of this landmark is not really known, but they have captivated visitors and locals for generations. They are not for the faint of heart. Taking these narrow, high stairs is an adrenaline rush for some. For others, they are their worst nightmare. Whether you gaze down from the summit or up from the base, prepare for a jaw-dropping experience that will leave you in awe. If the stairs seem a bit too daunting, don’t worry – there are alternate routes to the lower level.
The fame of these infamous stairs:
- There is a Facebook page with their name managed by an individual who lives in an apartment next to these steps. From his balcony, he observes people ascending and descending every day. The page is a fearless, R-rated blend of dark humor and unfiltered expression that has captivated a growing community. No topic is off-limits and political correctness is left at the door. He even has an SSOD podcast!
- Other stairways and wells around the River Street area have adopted the moniker. These steps are steep and scary as well, but the ‘OG’ is unmistakable.
- There are many YouTube and TikTok videos starring these stairs.
- Every year during Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the Stone Stairs of Death see thousands of drunken visitors and a few unfortunate arrests!
- Postcards, photographs and prints are readily available online.
But did you know that there is a Savannah Stone Stairs of Death Race?!?
Taking place this year on November 19th, this one-of-a-kind race challenges participants to conquer the treacherous 33 steep steps. Contestants and onlookers must brace themselves for an exhilarating 1 or 2-hour run as you ascend the infamous Stone Stairs of Death. Runners only go up, not down. The race begins on Williamson Street and follows MLK Boulevard before crossing River Street. From there, a sharp right turn will lead you to the daunting SSOD. Prepare for a heart-pumping adventure on this short 1/3-mile loop course. Competitors will aim to achieve the highest mileage within their registered time. For safety reasons, slower runners and walkers must use the right-hand stairs, while faster runners have exclusive access to the left-hand stairs.
The City of Savannah has erected a sign stating, “Historic steps. Use at your own risk.” This leaves caution to the wind for many, including those in the SSOD Race. But let’s hope they don’t try it when it’s windy. Many locals have stories of friends and acquaintances who have had a mishap or have attempted some sort of drunken traverse down these steps. Some even call them “Savannah’s Stairway to Heaven,” the ultimate attraction that will make you fall head over heels.
Are you wondering why would ANYONE pay to conquer these daunting stairs at high speeds for an hour or two?
Every year, an individual in need receives all of donate all the profits from the race. Of course, some money goes towards essentials like shirts, permits, police service and awards. The remaining funds go directly to the family in need. This race is a remarkable challenge that you won’t find anywhere else. This is the ultimate mountain training experience, even in low-elevation Savannah.