Looking Back, Moving Forward Part Two

Message From The Director

I have been surprised by the number of people who have reached out to me to talk about my upcoming retirement.  In last month’s column, I explained that this summer will be my last official summer with the South Carolina State Park Service, as I will retire and be closing this chapter of my life. So, for fun I’ll be counting down my 100 favorite things to see and do in a South Carolina state park. Last month we covered the first 30, and soon after it was published I started getting suggestions and questions about why a particular park wasn't on the list!  My response is… it’s early! We have 70 more to go including my top 10! I must admit, it is harder to do that I thought it would be, as I have accumulated lots of great memories and find it difficult to put into words the beauty or impact of several of these locations.

Let’s start this 30 with one of the spots whose beauty is in the impact it has on you, not just the scenery. As you enter the gates of Lake Greenwood, you will immediately notice the front entrance wall is incomplete. Make your turn into the park and pull off at the wayside. Get out of the car, and gaze into the woods.  Dozens of large pieces of granite litter the ground, anxious to tell their story and connect you to history.  The granite is there to complete the entrance walls. The boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps were hard at work to complete their assignment when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  They literally dropped what they were doing to take on their next assignment, to save the world. It’s worth the stop, and to think you almost rode past the stones in the woods. The list is more than beautiful places, some are places are powerful for what you don’t see, rather what you feel. Places of impact, the stones in the woods at Lake Greenwood is just one of these spots. The countdown continues.

69. The view from the Adventure at Charles Towne Landing- the skyline of Charleston and The Citadel, a mix of the old and new.

68. The brown lake cabin and water feature at Lee.

67. Fishing off the new pier at Sadlers Creek at night with the “magical green light” fish attractor.

66. Sitting in front of a fire in cabin two at Oconee. No lights on, just the glow of the fire and the beauty of CCC craftsmanship with unique vertical logs.

65. The “divers” boat ramp at Devils Fork at Sunrise.  The beauty of the mountains and the sound of loons make it unforgettable.

64. The north end of the island at Hunting Island. The walk is worth it- big dunes, and a feeling of being on your own little island.

63. Sitting under Hospital Rock, just off the Hospital Rock Trail at Jones Gap.

62. The farm at Kings Mountain takes most visitors back to a simpler time in history, it takes me back to 1982.

61. The view from the beach back to the CCC Bathhouse at Edisto Beach. It’s a cool structure that has survived every hurricane and storm since the 30’s.

60. Andrew Jackson’s Boy of the Waxhaws statue in early spring.

59.  The North Beach area behind the jetty at Huntington Beach… a unique habitat.

58. Paris Mountain’s Mountain Lake in the spring.

57. The locks at the lower end looking from the stone bridge at Landsford Canal.

56. The Washington Oak at Hampton Plantation.

55. Camp Cherokee and Camp York at Kings Mountain. The sounds of laughter and great memories of softball games as a ranger.

54. Cheraw’s chapel at Camp Forest, full of campers.

53. The cannon platform at Rivers Bridge, where my great, great grandfather Archie fought during the battle.

52. Stargazing at campsite #7 at Jones Gap, or really any campsite.

51. Hunting Island’s bridge that crosses the lagoon.

50. The stone CCC boat dock on Lake Pinnacle at Table Rock just below the lodge.

49. The old steel bridge at Croft just off Foster Mill trail.

48. The “open arms” tree at Myrtle Beach, next to the boardwalk where the old swimming pool site was.

47. The bathhouse at Paris Mountain, the rocks, oh the rocks!

46. The old CCC camp at Kings Mountain.

45. Walking on the boardwalk at Myrtle Beach just before dark.

44. Spanish moss and dogwood blooms at Lake Warren near Hampton Hall.

43. The outdoor amphitheater at Paris Mountain.  

42. The Avenue of Oaks at Charles Towne Landing.

41. The bathhouse bridge at Oconee between the lake and the spillway.

I want to end this list of 30 the way I started it, by reflecting on not only the beauty, but also the impact, of a spot. As I walk towards the mansion at Redcliffe, I stop at the slave quarters just behind the house. Simple, but so complicated, as I walk in and see the images of the people who were such a part of the story of Redcliffe, our state and our country.  I feel their presence and imagine their struggle. A place of impact.

What a journey this has been. I’m thinking this is going to be more difficult than I originally thought, as the more I list the more I remember! It’s springtime in the parks, time to make memories and add to the list!

See you in the parks!