“Nothing in South Carolina is equal to the (Great) Catawba falls… The wildness of the steep and rugged rocks … the waterfalls which are heard pouring down in different places of the precipice, with sounds various in proportion to their respective distances and descents – the hoarse hollow murmuring of the river running far below the summit of the rocks and of the adjacent surface of the earth, are objects well calculated to excite emotions of wonder and admiration in the mind of spectators. The scenery is sufficiently grand and curious to attract the visits of the most distant inhabitants of Carolina.”
– An excerpt from The History of South Carolina, by David Ramsay, M.D. 1809
Even two hundred years ago, the beauty of the area around what is now Great Falls, S.C. was lauded by historians and naturalists. The rugged beauty surrounding the Catawba River and The Great Falls of the Catawba is something that can draw people from around the area and from miles away.
Exciting things are coming to Great Falls in the next five years including many recreation amenities due to the Duke Energy Catawba-Wateree re-licensing agreement in connection with federal licensing of the dams and power plants in the area.
Between now and 2022, Duke will open the by-pass reaches of the Catawba which have not had continuous flows since the three dams were constructed more than 100 years ago. There will be two areas, the long by-pass, which is about 1.5 miles and the short by-pass which is about 1/2 mile. The long by-pass will have continuous flows for habitat and wildlife which will allow recreation every day of the year. On weekends between March and October, the flows will be increased for whitewater recreation. The short by-pass will also have recreational flows on weekends from spring to fall. This area has been studied, modeled and designed with safety in mind and will bring a variety of experiences to visitors and residents alike.
Additionally, Duke will be building canoe and kayak put-ins around the Great Falls and Cedar Creek (a.k.a. Stumpy Pond) Reservoirs. The three-kayak put-ins will make available areas on the reservoir that has not had public access. Duke will also build a fishing area near the base of the Fishing Creek Dam. In cooperation with Katawba Valley Land Trust, Duke will put in a history center at the ruins of the Nitrolee fertilizer plant located on the banks of Fishing Creek.
S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism, in partnership with Duke Energy, has plans to develop a state park on the five islands in the Cedar Creek (Stumpy Pond) Reservoir. These islands, Dearborn, Mountain, Hill, Pickett and Bowden will comprise the park which will include hiking trails, viewing areas, primitive camping and perhaps camper cabins or even a yurt village. There will be historic interpretation surrounding the ruins of the Mt. Dearborn Armory and Arsenal, built in the
early 1800s during President Thomas Jefferson’s administration. The master plan for the park will be completed by the end of 2018.
Over the next five to ten years, Great Falls will become a destination place for outdoor activity, history, and whitewater. From the textile industry to nature-based tourism, Great Falls is reinventing itself.