Clarks Hill, McCormick County, South Carolina
Clarks Hill had a unique beginning. John Mulford Clark of New Jersey came to Augusta, Georgia, in 1836 for his health. His acute coughing spells puzzled his doctors, who finally diagnosed his trouble as tuberculosis and recommended a warm Southern climate. After moving to Augusta, Clark had a violent coughing spell, which dislodged a fish bone that had been embedded in his throat. The fish bone flew out of his mouth during the coughing. His coughing ended and his health mended.
In Augusta, John Mulford Clark met Sarah Ann Elizabeth Butler whom he married in 1841. Clark carried his new wife to New Jersey on their honeymoon to visit his family. Clark’s father Job Clark was the great-nephew of Abram Clark, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Clark opened a wholesale grocery business in Augusta in 1856 and created Clark Milling Company for the manufacture of flour. Clark played an active role in the business, political and social life of Augusta, and was active in bringing about the construction of the railroad from Augusta to Greenwood. The railroad station on Clark’s land was named Clarks Hill.
During 1946–1954, the United States Army Corps of Engineers built a massive concrete dam at Clarks Hill, and named it Clark Hill. Thurmond Lake comprises 70,000+ aces of water and 1,200 miles of shoreline. The project was designed by the U. S. Army Corps of engineers for flood control, hydroelectric power, fish and wildlife, water quality, water supply, downstream navigation, and recreation. The reservoir filled between December 20, 1951 and March 2, 1952. Thurmond Dam is 5,680 feet long. The dam’s 23 spillway gates are each 40 feet high. When the lake is full pool level it impounds 2.5 million acre-feet (nearly 815 billion gallons) of water. 1,050,000 cubic yards of concrete went into the construction of the dam. That is enough concrete to build a sidewalk from Clarks Hill, South Carolina, to San Francisco, California.
A lone lady, Leila K. Cofield, after a long struggle got the name officially changed to Clarks Hill Dam. Ironically a decade ago the name was again changed to J. Strom Thurmond Dam at Clarks Hill.
Stevens Creek Heritage Preserve
Stevens Creek Heritage Preserve, located two miles east of Clarks Hill, was included in the National Register of Natural Landmarks in a ceremony on September 16, 1979. Stevens Creek has been described as one of the most unique floristic sites in the region. The ridge-tops at Stevens Creek are typical of other piedmont sites. The narrow floodplain is also typical, except that the trees are older and coast plain species such as Bald Cypress and Dwarf Palmetto are present. The most significant habitat occurs between the ridge-tops and the floodplain on steep, north-facing bluffs. The community found here is believed to be relicts of a once widespread hardwood forest from an ancient glacial period. In addition to plants from the piedmont and coastal plain, species more common in the mountains also occur here. The steepness and north-facing orientation of the bluffs reduce direct sunlight, thus resulting in cooler temperatures and reduced moisture loss. Combined with the richness of the soil, and a higher than typical soil pH, favorable conditions are provided for a wide variety of wildflowers. Several of these are listed as special concern species by the Heritage Trust. In South Carolina, Florida Gooseberry (Ribes echinellum) occurs only in the Stevens Creek drainage. This species is found only at one other place, near Lake Miccosukee, Florida, making it of worldwide significance.
P.O. Box 938, McCormick, SC 29835
100 South Main St., McCormick, SC 29835
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