Monday, August 23, 2010

Oconee State Park, South Carolina. Part II The Park Entrance, Office, and Swimming Area

Click here for the first post in this series.

aliner alone Wow! It’s certainly easy to sleep in this mountain air. Last night outside temperature dropped to around 67 degrees, with very little wind and no hint of rain. So I opened the Aliner’s windows on both sides. As a result, I didn’t stir until around 7:30 a.m. Well after sunrise. With a late start, but feeling refreshed.

lake with ducks A family of ducks lives at the lake near this campsite. They regularly come up in formation to forage through the camping area. Can’t imagine they find very much to eat. But they’re not easily discouraged.

ducks in water Here they are out on the lake this morning, splashing into the water just as I walked down to the shore for a photo.

Oh, one other thing about the camping facilities here. The water right from the tap is excellent. I always filter drinking and cooking water while RV camping. All State Park RV campsite water systems are carefully monitored for sanitation, of course. But that doesn’t mean the water tastes very good. Usually filtration is required to improve the taste, for making good tea, or even for cooking.

water faucet The water here, though, right from the tap tastes like it came straight from a mountain spring! No heavy chlorine treatment smell.

Park personnel drove by as I was taking this photo. They confirmed the good reputation of the water here at Oconee State Park. It’s well water. The Park has three separate wells, they said, and the water comes up from deep in the ground. In fact, Park visitors often show up with empty jugs that they fill at one of the spigots. Don’t blame ‘em!

Out and around to see more of the Park this morning. It’s a beautiful day for it. Sunny, with white puffy clouds against a blue sky. And temperature still in the mid-to-high 70s. Can’t beat this mountain air, even though here it’s only 1,800 feet or so.

entrance 01 First, a drive out for a closer look at the Park entrance. It’s a classic example of CCC work.

entrance 02 Just look at that stone fence. It was built to last. From stone found in the area. Quite different from that we saw at Paris Mountain. Or even at Table Rock, just down the road a ways.

Here’s a short video of the Park entrance:

directions sign What’s next? Lots to choose from here. Let’s begin with a closer look at the Park Office. Before we leave this sign, though, did you notice the “Carpet Golf” notation? That must be the upscale term for Put Put golf. Oconee is the last Park in the South Carolina system to maintain a put put golf course. I’ll try to get a photo when we check on things for younger campers to do.

office front Here’s the Park Office viewed from the front, through surrounding trees, as it should be to get the feel of the place. Buildings in this Park don’t “stand out.” They aren’t dramatic architectural statements astride the landscape.

office tree 01 Rather, the CCC made every effort to have the just the opposite effect. They built structures throughout the Park that blend into the environment. The natural environment is the star here, not the manmade later additions.

office tree 02 Many of these trees are old. Like the one you see above. But Park personnel over the years have taken good care of them. Thinning and pruning where necessary to maintain their attractive shapes and to prolong their lives. I’m reminded of trees on the Horseshoe of the USC campus.

office rear Here’s a view of the area in the rear of the Park Office. Really, the front of the building, that faces the swimming lake. Can you see that statue to the left of the flag pole?

statue 01 Here’s a closer view. The statue was dedicated in 2001 to commemorate the work of the CCC crews who built this park, and their three million colleagues around the country. It’s an impressive piece of work.

statue 02 The axe this fellow carries makes an eloquent statement. As we look at these CCC-built structures we should remember that they were created with only rudimentary tools. Very limited mechanization. The sculptor captures that point nicely with this axe, I think.

retail 01 Before you leave the Park Office be sure to look carefully through the retail area. It may save you a longer trip out of the park to the store. They have everything here from soup to nuts. Literally!

retail 02 Not only the usual t-shirts, caps and commemorative cups. But also camping essentials, and a wide range of grocery items. It looks as though someone has given thought to what Park visitors are likely to need. And the prices are reasonable. So, have a look as you check in. Here’s a short video taken in the retail area. With a surprise display at the end.

stone steps While you’re here, take a moment to walk down these stone steps toward the lake. It’s worth your time even if you have no interest in swimming or boating during this visit.

historical marker Just down from the steps is a surprise. A recently erected historical marker commemorating the 1777 relocation of the Cherokee Boundary. A fundamentally important event in the settlement of Northern Europeans in this area. Click on the photo above to read the inscription. You’ll have to visit Oconee State Park, though, to see the rest of the message on the back!

bath house front Next down to have a look at Oconee State Park’s bath house. This too is a CCC-built facility that has been well maintained. It no longer provides his and her changing facilities and a nice tea room. But it shows evidence of lots of upkeep.

bath house stone wall Here’s a closer look at one of the bath house’s stone walls. Very different from the stone work we saw at Paris Mountain, or even at nearby Table Rock. The CCC crews used building materials they found nearby. The stones in this wall tell that story. Click on the photo for a larger view.

bath house spillway Here’s an unusual feature of Oconee State Park’s CCC-built bath house. Incorporation of the lake’s spillway into the bath house itself. With water deep enough to bring boats up under the overhanging roof. And look at that old cherry tree at the right of the photo above. A relic from the era when the Home Place stood on this spot.

swim area Here’s a view of the swimming area from the porch of the bath house. The brownish cast you see in the water is not the water itself but the brown bottom showing up through the clear water. Also notice the life guard chairs and the high diving board. One of the very few left in the Park system. No wonder this area attracts so many visitors to the Park.

Here’s a short video of the area around the bath house.

Well, much more to see here, but this is all we have time for now. Stay tuned, though. Next post we’ll visit the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla. Center Director Leslie White will tell us about the Center’s diverse programs and the museum’s collection.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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