Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Aiken State Natural Area, South Carolina. Part VI. The Historic Park Office and its Environs.

Click here for the first post in this series.

Back out the hard-packed dirt road now, across Route 53 to the other side of the Park. For a closer look at the Park Office and its interesting surrounding scenery. All within easy walking distance of the parking lot there.

co 1After parking beside the fence, be sure to notice the sign at the entrance of the walk up to the Office. Click on the photo above for an over-sized image that should be legible. Depending on the size of your computer monitor, you may have to scroll around a bit to see everything. But it will be worth the effort.

The sign describes the experiences of CCC Company 4470 who built this Park. 4470 was a Black Company, formed under the 1930s’ segregated system.

co 2 Well, they did a fine job. Many of their buildings stand still today, serving visitors to Aiken State Natural Area. After over seven decades of use. Here’s the front of the Park Office. Originally built as a changing/bath house for Park visitors who came to swim in the nearby lake.

co 3Park personnel, of course, have made repairs from time to time. Here’s a photo taken from the terrace in the middle of the building, with a good view of the roof. The lighter colored lumber has been replaced recently. The darker planks and beams are original. Remarkable work. Typical of the CCC craftsmen.

co 4 Here’s a view of the small lake near the Park Office. In years past this lake, I heard, was divided into a swimming section and a paddle boat section. Now it serves neither purpose. But for my money, is far more interesting.

co 05 Be sure to walk down the hill from the Office to walk the path around this lake. From this perspective you’ll understand why I prefer the lake as it is today. The combination of clear water, fish, turtles, aquatic plant life, and the surrounding trees that have been carefully pruned over the years, makes for a remarkable sight.

co 07 And look closely at the plant life near the shore of the lake. A wide variety of aquatic plants floating in crystal-clear water. Here and there small fish dart about; large and small turtles, frogs. All very interesting.

co 06 The forest on the other side of the path also is interesting. Plenty of birds and other wildlife.

co 08 And here convenient access to the Park’s remarkable walking/hiking trail. Even if you weren’t planning to hike the trail today, take a few minutes to walk down this path. It’s smooth and easily accessible here, and will give you a good introduction to what you will see later on.

co 09 Back on the path around the lake, look at this tree! What a shape. And right here where everyone can enjoy it. Even from a car window, if necessary.

As with the trees and shrubs in the Campground area, this sort of natural beauty doesn’t just happen. Someone over the years has taken good care of this tree.

co 10 Here’s the restroom facilities for this part of the Park. Well planned out. Surrounded by those beautiful trees.

co 11 What a place to have a picnic! When I arrived on Sunday afternoon, this picnic shelter was hosting a large church group. They seemed to be having a great time.

co 12 Well, back up to the parking area and the car. Lots more to see here. But we’re out of time. Next we’ll talk with Park Manager Troy Crider. So stay tuned! 

Click here for the next post in this series.

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