Lake Greenwood State Park
Most State Parks have a story to tell, but few are as poignant as Lake Greenwood State Park’s story. It all starts even before you get to the entrance. Along the road leading into the park is an unfinished wall. It doesn’t look like much, and you’d be forgiven if you drove right passed without noticing.
The wall was to be the entrance to the State Park and was being built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the fall of 1941. On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Fleet launched a steak attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
As the United States entered World War II, the young men and boys building Lake Greenwood State Park doped their shovels to enlist in the military, and work on the park was abandoned. The unfinished wall and stone blocks that litter the surrounding woods are the clearest examples of the abandonment of the camp.
The Buzzard Roost and Lake Greenwood
Before the 1940’s, Greenwood and neighboring towns didn’t have any recreation options within a reasonable distance. But an opportunity to change that was seen when the Public Works Administration began building a hydroelectric dam along the Saluda River.
Named for the large number of buzzards that would roost around the property, the Buzzard’s Roost Project would not only provide affordable electricity to Greenwood residents, but it would also create a 12,000 acre lake with 40 miles of shoreline.
Seizing the opportunity to provide recreation and jobs for the surrounding area, the state purchased 1,000 acres of farmland and forest. The pieces were beginning to fall into place.
Civilian Conservation Corps Company 2413 Arrives at Lake Greenwood
In May of 1938, the plans for Lake Greenwood State Park were finalized, but construction couldn’t begin until fall when CCC Company 2413 finished construction of Poinsett State Park in Wedgefield.
The dam would not be completed until 1940, so the CCC took advantage of the situation to gather resources from the area that would be flooded. Much of the wood used to in the surviving CCC buildings came from what is now the lake bed. Harvested and sawed on site. Much of the landscaping was also done with native plants in the flood zone.
Work Left Undone at Lake Greenwood State Park
Support for the CCC had been waning for a time at the Federal level. With the US on a war footing and many of the young men who were the labor force of the CCC enlisting, the program was officially disbanded on June 30, 1942. But work on Lake Greenwood State Park would end earlier than that. The camp commander was notified on March 6, 1942 that his post was to be abandoned in 5 days on March 11. Many of the planned projects were left unfinished or never started.
A lodge was planned that would have been the focal point of the park, but never built. In the early 2000’s, the Drummond Center, that operates as park office, museum, and conference center was opened on the site chosen for the CCC lodge.
Behind the Drummond Center is a terraced grass lawn running down to the shoreline. The terracing was completed by the CCC and planted with Bermuda grass.
At the base of the terraced lawn is a stone walled boat basin. Work on basin was started before the lake was fully flooded, unfortunately the wall was not completed by the time the camp was abandoned. It was later completed in the CCC style using materials previously gathered.
At least two picnic shelters were planned for the park, but the CCC only completed one. Picnic Shelter #1 on the far right peninsula is the only one dating back to the CCC. Shelters #2 and #3 where built later and although they look similar to CCC construction, differences can bee seen. The water fountains around the other two shelters are also made of red brick as opposed to stone at Shelter #1.
Other plans for the park included pools because the water from the lake was considered unusable for swimming and sports fields.
Being built in the segregated South, the plans for Lake Greenwood State Park included areas for both White and Black guests. The park that exists today was the white area. A park for African Americans was planned for across the street from the main entrance. It wouldn’t have any lake access, but was planned with similar amenities like a swimming pool and sports fields. Money had already been set aside for a picnic shelter that would never be built and the property only partialy developed. After the CCC abandoned the camp, the land was sold off.
Work Completed by the CCC at Lake Greenwood State Park
The dam wasn’t completed until 1940, so much of the work on the park had to wait until the lake was fully flooded.
Picnic Shelter #1 was completed and represents the most complete CCC area of the park. Along with the shelter twenty-four picnic table and benches, three stone water fountains, and ten outdoor fireplaces were built around the shelter.
Many of the roads and parking areas were laid out and built by the CCC including the circular drive in front of the Drummond Center. Trees and shrubs were planted around the roadways as well as a good bit of the landscaping around the park. Including planting Bermuda grass throughout the property.
Some buildings like the manager’s house that aren’t on public view were also constructed by the CCC as well as a pump house that’s been moved from its original location.
Visiting Lake Greenwood State Park
Today the park occupies over 900 acres over a series of peninsulas along Lake Greenwood.
The park as 125 paved camping sites in two campgrounds spanning two of the peninsulas. The camp sites all have water and hookups as well as picnic table. Two boat ramps provide access to the lake and the coves around the camping areas provide plenty of places to moor your boat.
Three picnic shelters are setup each on separate peninsulas. They’re available first come first served if not already reserved. Individual tables are scattered around the park and there’s some green area where you could put down a picnic blanket.
Lake Greenwood is known as an excellent fishing site by boat or along the shore. Close to Picnic Shelter #1 there’s a small fishing pier. Rods and reals are available at the park office.
Although there are not designated swimming areas and no lifeguards on duty, swimming is allowed in the lake. Across the road from the playground near Shelter #1 seems to be the preferred swimming area for day visitors to the park. The coves around the campground also are great for swimming.
Fast Facts About Lake Greenwood State Park
|Type:||Lakefront State Park|
|Admission:||$3 adults; $1.50 SC seniors; $1 children age 6-15; age 5 & younger free|
|Location:||302 State Park Rd, Ninety Six, SC 29666|
Things to do: Camping, fishing, picnicking, playground, swimming (no lifeguard), boat ramps