Nature! History! Family fun! Christmas crafts! All this and more are just hours away at Lake Conestee Nature Park near Greenville. Visit their website for fascinating facts and a chance to learn more about their programs.
And here’s a bit of the history the park provides:
“For early settlers to this region dams were a critical source of power for commerce. This was true along the Reedy River like any other stream in the Inner Piedmont region. Going back to the early 1790s, there were a dozen or more small “low head” dams along the Reedy from its headwaters to its confluence with the Saluda at present day Lake Greenwood. These “low head” dams powered grist mills, saw mills, and later on textile operations.
At the community known as “Reedy River Factory” (not re-named as “Conestee Mill” until 1909) we’ve learned that there was a grist mill located about 100 feet upstream of the present Lake Conestee Dam location. The attached images show the location of the grist mill, which is depicted on the 1884 and 1888 Sanborn Maps. This suggests there was likely another small dam upstream of the grist mill, providing power to that operation, above the larger dam providing power to the textile operation.
These maps also show the dam providing power to Reedy River Factory as a much smaller structure than the present dam built in 1892. In a census of existing and potential water power in the South Atlantic states, published by the U.S. Bureau of Census in 1885, George Swain confirmed the specifications of the dam at Reedy River Manufacturing Company. He described this dam as 225 feet long and only 5 feet tall, but with 22 feet of fall (due to the shoals below) and built of wood. He rated this dam as capable of 125 horsepower 10 months of the year, and 100 horsepower the rest of the time. The 1892 dam still existing at the Conestee Mill site (owned by Conestee Foundation) is constructed of stone masonry and is 550 feet in length with a height of 28 feet from the primary spillway to the plunge pool below.”