Monday, October 28, 2013

From Textiles to Tourism in Calhoun Falls
Written By Louise Hudson

Calhoun Falls Marina
Just as the Westpoint Stevens Mill at Calhoun Falls is being demolished, Mayor Lee Garrett is doing his best to keep the dwindling South Carolina textile town on the map – not through industry this time but via tourism.

Dubbing it The Gateway to Adventure, Garrett has big plans to redefine the town with a trendy “glamping” development at Blue Hole Beach on nearby Lake Russell. “Calhoun Falls is a dying community,” he says. “But the plan is to make Calhoun Falls a healthy community through the Blue Hole project.” Glamping is the new term for glamorous camping and the Mayor’s plans include treehouses, teepees and yurts as well as more traditional tent and RV sites.

Emulating the Georgia side of the 26,650 acre reservoir created by the US Corps of Engineers, Garrett’s plan is to encourage more tourists with better facilities without disturbing the pristine beauty of the undeveloped area. Unlike many other lakes in the area, Lake Russell’s shoreline is prohibited for private use and, instead, encompasses several state parks and day-use areas.

Blue Hole
There is, however, a 200-acre plot called The Sanctuary zoned for residential development just inland from the lakefront. It was a donation of seven acres of this land to the Town which is helping to facilitate the Mayor’s tourism tactics.

With a $250,000 grant from the SC Department of Commerce, Calhoun Falls has the opportunity to redefine its previously unvaunted day-use area known as Blue Hole. “If we’d developed it years ago, it would have been traditionally done,” says the Mayor. “But we now have the opportunity of a clean sheet of paper so we can do it in a leading edge way.”

Blue Hole
The project focuses on eco-friendly additions to the Blue Hole Beach area which already sports white sands, volleyball, a wide and deep designated swimming area, a pavilion, brand new rest rooms and a pier all encircled by miles of clear water and pristine wooded shoreline. Blue Hole’s dense forest and thick undergrowth has been manicured over the past year or so by a dedicated team of locals. “We are part of a declining county but we have not seized our greatest assets; it’s almost negligent not to do this,” says Mayor Garrett who recognizes that both people and natural resources are Calhoun Falls differential.

Blue Hole
Since the mill closed in 2006, there has been an exodus from the town with jobless residents leaving for work opportunities elsewhere. “There’s also been a brain drain with much of our youth and more qualified people moving,” says Garrett who says the town now needs strong outside objective leadership to reinvigorate its residents. He has reached out to several different agencies to help with this strategy and two so far - the University of South Carolina’s Smart State Center for Tourism and The Conservation Fund (TCF) - have agreed to help. While USC is concentrating on customer service training and tourism awareness for the town’s population, TCF is investigating the link between people and nature in a livability study.

Blue Hole Ranger
Future improvements for Blue Hole include a forest zipline and various trails to link the area to the adjacent Calhoun Falls State Park. “I see Blue Hole as the trailhead and the marina as the destination,” says Garrett who doesn’t want to compete with the State Park but instead offer a complimentary facility. The Town has developed nifty names for the land, water and air connections: the Blue Way is the water route; the Green Way is the biking and hiking path and the Air Way is the proposed zipline.

An important component of the Mayor’s quest is to link the whole development to Main Street which, with empty stores and peeling paintwork, is in dire need of re-invention. “We’ve already re-named some of the roads,” he said.  SC Highway 81, dividing the Park and the potential development areas from the remainder of the town, is now known as Calhoun Shores Parkway and US Highway 72, running east/west over Lake Russell to Georgia, has been renamed Russell Lake Boulevard

Mayor Lee Garrett
Up until recently there was nothing noticeable to link the lake with the town or direct any accidental tourist that way. The newly named roads with glossy new road signage will help with this as well as an artistic statue of two children having fun fishing at the entrance to Blue Hole.

However, more funds are needed to revitalize downtown and encourage hotels, motels, stores and restaurants as a backdrop for the camping and beach facility. “We’ve been looking for private investors or benefactors who were born here or who have a special connection to Calhoun Falls but haven’t found anyone yet,” said Garrett. He’s eagerly awaiting the outcome of his application for a Parks, Recreation and Tourism grant for $100,000 to build a new trail on an old golf cart path.

There are plans to expand and light the beach pavilion to accommodate musical and theatrical evening events and there is permission for much needed food and beverage concessions. The Calhoun Falls Strategic Economic Development Plan also includes specific projects such as adding paddleboats to the kayak facility.

Beaver Dam Marina Restaurant
Although Calhoun Falls has no ritzy restaurants yet, there’s a lovely lakeside eatery called Clifford’s just across the “Blue Way”. Adjacent to Beaver Dam Marina, Clifford’s excels in fresh seafood and fish dishes with an interesting array of specials every weekend. Open Friday through Sunday, it has a panoramic wooden veranda over the lake where visitors throw fish food down to a frenzy of resident carp. Owner, Tim Clifford took over the building in 1997, transforming the disused shell into a thriving rustic restaurant. A former engineer, he also built a covered marina, home to speedboats, cruisers, jetskis and houseboats which ply the lake every weekend.

Beaver Dam Marina
There’s also a gorgeous golf course which you can see peeking through the shoreline trees. Although the course is on the Georgia side of the lake, it is still part of the Mayor’s vision: “Imagine staying in a treehouse, getting on a boat, tooling across the lake with your golf clubs on board, and going to Arrowhead Point for a round of golf.”

If you like the sound of a watery wilderness populated by ospreys, bald eagles, herons and beavers, you can already camp at Calhoun Falls State Park. One of the major fall events there is the Halloween Haunt when the regular RV crowd decks the trees with scary paraphernalia and locals flock in for a mega trick or treat party.

Websites:




7 comments:

  1. Share Experience
    Bringing too many valuable items on a trip just increases the chance that some of them will be lost or stolen. If you have any food allergies, you will want to be especially careful when Traveling Experience abroad.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Acute Trek Pvt. Ltd. an indoor outdoor trekking and tours operative company takes you that further way to guarantee you has an unforgettable adventure Trekking in Nepal that you have been dream with Acute trek is part of your choice. We have your choose of trekking for 3 days or 30 or more days it depending of your timetable, sleep under lodges or tent. We always respect our duty to constantly your holiday satisfaction in Nepal. Natures renew to Treks Himalaya one’s own self regard, to relive oneself, to realize Nepal beauty, to interact with its generous, friendly peoples are highlights of Trekking in Himalaya. Whether you are looking for a quiet gateway, a memorable Hiking in Nepal outing with a family or an exciting nature adventure. We offer you with the best progressive information and itinerary leading focused and modified as per your requirements. It is significant to memorize, though, it necessitate an enough level of physical homework and must remembers that there is also a psychosomatic assurance in walking in mountains. Acute trek is an attempt to encourage Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as conserve the surroundings for generation to come. Acute Trek specialize in organize Nepal travel activities excursion such as:- Nepal trekking, Helicopter tour, peak climbing, mountain flight, Honeymoon Tour, sightseeing tour, jungle safari, rafting, Pilgrim's Tour, Hotel booking, Air ticket, Tibet Tour, Bhutan Tour, Paragliding, Bungee Jump, Eco Tour, local village tour and many more.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Europe Holiday Packages- Europe travel packages are prepared keeping in mind the general interest and preference of the tourists. For those who have an interest in history, the places and travel destinations which have a high historical importance are included in the packages and thereby suit the tourists around the world.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post with nice clicks!! Appreciate your efforts. I also like to share that i found An Executive Travel, the best in Charleston taxi service and providing information about hotels in Charleston, SC.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Treks Himalaya is indoor outdoor trekking and tours Operators takes you that further way to guarantee you has an unforgettable adventure Trekking in Nepal that you have been dream with Acute trek is part of your choice. We have your choose of trekking for 3 days or 30 or more days it depending of your timetable, sleep under lodges or tent. We always respect our duty to constantly your holiday satisfaction in Nepal. Whether you are looking for a quiet gateway, a memorable Hiking in Nepal outing with a family or an exciting nature adventure with Acute Trek Pvt. Ltd.. We offer you with the best progressive information and itinerary leading focused and modified as per your requirements. It is significant Treks Himalaya to memorize, though, it necessitate an enough level of physical homework and must remembers that there is also a psychosomatic assurance walking and Trekking in Himalaya. Acute trek is an attempt to encourage Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as conserve the surroundings for generation to come. We are specialize in organize Nepal travel activities excursion such as:- Trekking, Helicopter Tour, Peak Climbing, Mountain Flight, Honeymoon Tour, Sightseeing, Rafting, Jungle Safari, Pilgrim’s Tour, Hotel Reservation, Air Ticket, Tibet and Bhutan Tour many more your vacation desire.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Treks Himalaya trekking tours operators takes you that further way to guarantee for Trekking in Nepal that you has an unforgettable Trek in Nepal that you have been dream with Acute trek is part of your choice for Nepal Tours. We have your choose of Nepal Trekking for 3 days to 30 or more days it depending of your timetable, sleep under lodges or tent. We always respect our duty to constantly your Nepal Holidays satisfaction. Whether you are looking for gateway Travel in Nepal, a memorable Hiking in Nepal outing with a family or an exciting nature Tours in Nepal with Acute Trek Pvt. Ltd.. We offer you with the best progressive information during your Nepal Travel and itinerary leading focused and modified as per your requirements of Holidays in Nepal. It is significant Treks Himalaya to memorize, though, it necessitate an enough level of physical homework and must remembers that there is also a psychosomatic assurance walking and Trekking in Himalaya. Acute trek is an attempt to encourage Adventure Trekking in Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as conserve the surroundings for generation to come Tours Trekking in Nepal. We are specialize in organize Nepal travel activities excursion such as:- Trekking, Helicopter Tour, Peak Climbing, Mountain Flight, Honeymoon Tour, Sightseeing, Rafting, Jungle Safari, Pilgrim’s Tour, Hotel Reservation, Air Ticket, Tibet and Bhutan Tour many more your vacation desire.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Europe is one of beautiful destination for honeymoon preferred by newly married couple……

    Europe Holiday Packages | Best Tour Operators in Delhi

    Thanks!
    Best regards,
    Domaxy

    ReplyDelete