From Textiles to Tourism in Calhoun Falls
Written By Louise Hudson
|Calhoun Falls Marina|
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.
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 Ranger|
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|
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|
|Beaver Dam Marina|
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.