Sunday, April 11, 2010

Little Pee Dee State Park, S.C. Part III. First Impressions.

Click here for the first post in this series.

ParkPlaque Little Pee Dee State Park was established in 1951, as you see on the photo of the commemorative plaque above. Nearly 60 years ago. The CCC crews of the 1930ss were long gone by the time this Park’s facilities were built. And that has made a difference in the Park’s structures.

PlaygroundRestroom The building above, now a restroom facility near the Park’s main playgrounds, is the only example I could find with the characteristic CCC features.

From near the beginning, the manmade 54-acre lake has been the Park’s central attraction. It was popular with Lee County residents in years past for swimming. Early Park photographs show dozens of children and young adults happily splashing away in the shallow area near the shore. While the more adventurous are pictured diving from a concrete platform out a ways in deeper water.

DivingPlatformThat concrete platform remains. Like the one at Sesqui. But these days it’s only used by the ubiquitous geese. No more swimming here.

These days it’s the excellent fishing that seems to attract folks to the lake. Serious pan fishermen were wetting their lines optimistically along the bank, along the causeway, and even in the small pool below the spillway. This was serious fishing. Having a good time, to be sure. But definitely not recreational style “catch-and-release” fishing. These folks were fishing for the frying pan! Hence, “Pan Fishing.”

RentalBoats A few folks had rented boats from the Park’s fleet of kayaks, canoes, and flat-bottomed aluminum fishing boats. Only electric trolling motors are allowed. A good thing, since the lake is only 54 acres in total. And sturdy stumps lurk near the surface throughout a good part of that.

I spoke with a number of the shore fishermen while wandering around with my camera. All of them said they lived in Dillon County, that they visit the Park as often as they can. And that the lake is an excellent place to fish. I won’t repeat their descriptions of the size of some large-mouth bass taken here. Without exception, these fishermen were helpful, and offered useful suggestions of of other places in Dillon County to visit. South Carolina social scenery at its best!

PlaygroundEquipment One person, upon hearing from her husband that I was taking photos, even came by to show me some pictures that she had taken of the Park and surrounding area.

PetrifiedWoodShe also wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the large chunk of petrified wood displayed near the playground. This example is from Black Creek in nearby Florence County. Probably either palm or cypress originally, and more than 10,000 years old. I didn’t know South Carolina had any petrified wood. Live and learn!

ParkOffice After enjoying chats with other Park visitors by the shore of the lake, and learning all sorts of useful things, I went back up the hill to the Park Office to check in.

Now, this may not be the smallest Park Office in the system. But it’s the smallest I’ve ever seen. Obviously, Little Pee Dee State Park doesn’t waste its funds on elaborate administrative facilities! This building appears to be quite new. It serves as the administrative office, the visitors welcome and information center, and the retail sales space. I’ll have to learn more about this building.

Ranger David Senter had the duty this weekend. He welcomed me to the Park, checked me into Campsite # 1, and offered advice on the Park and surrounding area, all the while fielding telephone calls and questions of other visitors. It was a busy Sunday afternoon!

Ranger Senter was born and raised in nearby Mullins, In Marion County. He has been assigned to this Park for around 20 years, if memory serves. And knows everything worth knowing about the Park and surrounding area. In spite of the phones and questions from visitors, Mr. Senter took time to give me all sorts of useful suggestions of things I had to see here during my stay.

Site 1 Following Ranger Senter’s directions, I then drove directly to Campsite # 1. The site was ready, and I had no difficulty backing in. Well, only two tries … Which is a record!

After unhooking, though, the soft sand presented a challenge for the small front tongue wheel as I turned the Aliner around to face the lake. This is a common problem on non-concrete sites. It’s about time I learned a better way to cope with soft camping pad surfaces.

old bath house As usual, once finally I had the Aliner situated on the site, roof and sides raised, electricity connected, water tank filled, with everything placed inside for five days of RV camping, I went to check on the “facilities.” Ranger Senter mentioned that site # 1 is near the “old bath house.” That the “new bath house” is up near the northern end of the campground loop.

As I approached the “old bath house” I could see that the building deserved its name. It has been there for a while. Probably since the 1960s. Though I was surprised by how well it has been maintained during all those years.

Bath House InsideInside, the lighting was bright and the walls were covered with a nice coat of fairly new paint. The bath house hardware too obviously had served for some time. But again, it was in excellent condition. Now that requires steady attention and a lot of work over the years.

The shower curtains were clean, top to bottom, and the walls of the two shower stalls were resurfaced with a smooth vinyl. Everything was in spic ‘n span condition. No need to visit the “new bath house,” which is clear up at the other end of the campground loop. [The “new bath house,” by the way, was built in the 1980s!]

Path To Lake It was only a short walk down this path to the shore of the lake. I should be able to wheel the kayak down and back with no difficulty. Which means I’ll be able to leave it assembled and inflated beside the Aliner between paddles!

View from put in And here is the view of Lake Norton from the shore where I’ll put the kayak in tomorrow. How about that!

benchSome earlier visitor must have been inspired by the view to build this bench. Couldn’t resist it. But no kayaking until tomorrow. Other things to see first.

So stay tuned for more on Little Pee Dee State Park.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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