Anne Springs Close Greenway – Fort Mill, South Carolina
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This expansive greenway in Fort Mill covers 2,100 acres. It is privately-owned by namesake Anne Springs Close, but she and her children have placed a conservation easement on the land, via the Nation Ford Land Trust, and it is open to the public. Ms. Close can often be seen enjoying the park, which opened in 1995. The acreage is part of a 6,000-acre tract that Close’s ancestors bought from Catawba Indians generations ago; she eventually inherited the tract. Much of the remaining land is being developed.
Wanting to leave some of the land to her eight children, but also wanting to protect a significant portion of it for years to come, Close and her children agreed to protect in perpetuity this part of the property while making it publicly available to others who appreciate nature’s abounding beauty. The Anne Springs Close Greenway was established to offer visitors countless opportunities to discover upper South Carolina’s cultural and natural history.
Equestrian trails, walking trails, mountain biking, fishing, interpretive tours, camping, and even a South Carolina Master Naturalist program are available within this comprehensive environmental complex. Facilities within the preserve include a lap pool, fitness room, and racquetball courts. However, despite the modern amenities enjoyed by many locals, people come from all over to appreciate the lakes and trails that define the greenway.
One of the preserve’s more popular spots is Lake Haigler, seen in the above photos. The lake was named for Catawba Indian chief King Haigler, known in this region to be a friend to white settlers. King Haigler was killed in 1763 by a band of Shawnee Indians. The 28-acre lake was built in 1952 by Colonel Elliott Springs and includes falls, seen below, created by a dam. The lake is stocked with bass and catfish, as are the greenway’s other lakes, Crandall, Frances, Katherine, and Stumpy Pond.
Pictured below is part of the Nation Ford Road. The greenway preserves a mile of the historic road, which was a trading route used by the Catawba and adopted by white settlers as early as 1650. It was a portion of the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, which stretched from Philadelphia to Augusta, Georgia. As part of an important transportation route, many settlers were attracted to this area for establishing their homesteads. Railroads, and later highways, followed roughly the same route as Nation Ford Road when they were built. Parts of the road, including this one, are listed in the National Register.
Several walking trails, like the ones seen above and below, wind through the preserve. The trails run parallel to Nation Ford Road, encircle Lake Haigler, and take visitors to the historic Garrison-Webb gristmill, built at the end of the eighteenth century. The mill is suspected to be the the first such gristmill in the area. Over 100 species of wildflowers line the many trails, and birding opportunities are afforded all year. A variety of natural communities ranging from pinewoods and hardwood bottom forests to meadows and prairies make for incredible wildlife viewing.
One of the greenway’s most visited features is the dairy barn, seen below. Built in 1947, the former working barn has been renovated and is now used as an event site. With no shortage of scenery, the barn can accommodate around 400 people and also provides an outdoor event area for those wishing to entertain under the sky. Tents are also permitted on the grounds. The two-story barn allows for both upstairs and downstairs seating.
For those interested in American history, visit the Faires-Colthrap Cabin, pictured below and at the bottom of the page. The cabin of hand-hewn logs was originally located about three miles away and was built around the early 1800s. Legend holds that the son of a prisoner of the Revolutionary War was once housed here, as was a Civil War soldier. It was moved to the Anne Springs Close Greenway property in 1994.
Another historic cabin on the property is the Graham Cabin, below. This former log cabin has been updated with weatherboarding over the years, though its original hand-hewn beams are still visible inside. It, too, was first located elsewhere, about two miles away. The cabin was moved here in 1999. It belonged to Archibald and Elizabeth Graham in the early 1800s; Archibald Graham was the great-grandfather of the Reverend Billy Graham.
Modern buildings on the property include the charming red Field Trail Barn, accommodating up to 125 people as an event spot, the Adventure Center, which hosts educational programs and camps, an open-air pavilion, and a house converted into a nature center. School groups, business groups, local residents, and out-of-town visitors are all welcome to take advantage of the many facilities available for varying uses at Anne Springs Close Greenway.
The greenway is a diverse property, ranging from woods to farmland to orchards. Above, a peach orchard seen in the fall lines an equestrian trail, providing both natural beauty and, in the summer, the sweet fruit seen below. A trip to Anne Springs Close Greenway – whether for the day or overnight at one of the preserve’s camping sites – is like no other in South Carolina.
The Anne Springs Close Greenway is maintained by the Leroy Springs Company, founded in 1938. The company was formed to issue interest-free scholarships to students in need wishing to pursue college. It grew to include the management of various recreational venues across the state and even in North Carolina started by Springs Mills for its textile workers and later for the general public. Springmaid Pier in Myrtle Beach is one such site.
Springs Mills was a textile company owned and run by Leroy Springs in the early twentieth century; today it continues to operate as the nationally-known Springs Industries. The Leroy Springs Company was organized by his son, Colonel Elliott White Springs, who was the father of Anne Springs Close. Both Leroy Springs and Elliott Springs also owned and ran the L&C Railway. Anne Springs Close serves as president of the board of trustees of the Springs Close Foundation, a charitable organization founded in 1942 to support textile communities and former textile communities.
Anne Springs Close Greenway Info
Address: 1604 Highway 21 Bypass, Fort Mill, SC 29715
Anne Springs Close Greenway Map
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