Sunday, November 6, 2011

Springs Park–Lancaster, SC: Where It’s At Today

With hours of research under my belt, I have yet to pint point the beginning of Springs Park. I came across a discussion board that mentioned an outdoor swimming pool and clubhouse for the mill employees in 1924. Yet another site states the park, operated by Springs Industries, opened in 1940s, then closed in late 1980s. I have read some unusual attractions in the original park included a steam propelled model railroad which was a feature of the Charleston Exposition in 1902, an Army pursuit plane, and a training plane. Another site states Springs Park expanded in 1948 to include a pavilion large enough over a thousand. More research indicated that by the summer of 1963 the park also included an Olympic swimming pool with a diving tower 10 meters above the water and an amphitheater capable of seating 5000 people. According to Denise Walker, the owner of a discussion board for the history of the park, the high rise diving board was the first of its kind in the southeast and one of two or three in the entire country, which was designed by a Charles M. Graves. Attractions also included a king-sized merry-go-round, a kid-sized Ferris wheel, boat and pony rides, swings, a bowling alley, an archery range, a skating rink, shuffleboard courts.
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Coming down the trail, and walking the short distance up the hill to the fence surrounding what is left of the pool, one has no trouble imaging the summers of long past. The remains of a shower house sit to the right of the pool, a gaping hole where a window once looked out to the length of it. Across the way, another building sits in ruins. What a site to see, the photos do no justice for the sheer size of the now defunct park!
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I came across a Facebook page dedicated to the park, and several of its members shared a few photos and childhood memories. One of the users even posted there were concerts at the park. She wrote, “I seem to remember Patsy Cline, with her red hair, in an orange chiffon dress with gold sequined high hills. My uncle Charlie Brooks worked for Springs so we would go down from Kannapolis to visit when they had the opening each year. This was back in the 60's. I have many memories of Springs Park.”
Having seen for my self what condition the park is in today, it pains me to think of why someone would let such a grand attraction sit in ruins like this.
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The high dive has long fallen, and the entire pool has various graffiti painted on the walls. The tiles are cracked and missing, the surrounding sidewalk is crumbling and at one point is actually caving in. I don’t condone trespassing, and if you even attempt to locate this park, be warned – it’s dangerous.
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My friend and I explored what remains of the park, going into the pool and walking down into where so much water once was. It always makes me feel strange to walk in places that you aren’t meant to, even if the water isn’t there today. 2011-12272011-1240
I found another site online that officially states the parks closing in 1990. A lady posted a newspaper clipping, along with this photo. She went on to write this photo was taken in June 1990, the last summer the pool was officially open. Everything else has closed by then, and the life guard in the photo told her it wouldn’t be long till the pool closed too. old park pic2While I loved the adventure this old park provided, I hate to see something like this park once was go under. It makes me wonder about the places I know today, and what sort of people will stumble upon them in 20 or 30 years only to find them in ruin. You don’t expect to see things on this big of a scale fall down so hard.

9 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. When I was a kid, we would go there in the Summer time. The park hosted the baseball award ceromony at the end of the season. All the teams would show up and then afterwards we had the run of the park.

    My Parents would take us there in the summertime. They were both employees of Springs.

    The diving board was pushed over by the police in the pursuit of someone who ran into the woods and climbed it. That's apparently how they got him down.

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  3. Hi i'm from the UK and recently saw a youtube video about this place in it's current abandoned state. Thank you for sharing your info & photos of how it used to be back in the day, really interesting, thanks for bringing it back to life

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  4. Thanks! I'm glad people are still able to enjoy it, even in it's current state!

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  5. One of the biggest losses of Lancaster, SC due to the fact that Springs Mills, Inc. and Duke Energy did not care enough to save it for the county. They just shut it down and let it rot, just like our small town.

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  6. I am 16 years old and was raised in Lancaster. I have been told stories about why it was shutdown. I heard from family to other people. It from business related or racial stuff. But the story I hear the most is a mix of both. At the time the park was mainly white.they would buy snacks/drinks and rides and sometimes donate money to improve the park.but when black people came they didn't buy snacks/food or do the rides. They only came for the pool which was free. The park lost money and had to shutdown attrctmeants 1 at a time or several at a time to stay open until the last most popular attractment was closed(which was the pool). Springs lost money and moved to make more money and remake what they had lost. I do not mean for this story to offend anyone. I am only retelling what I have been told.

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  7. When I was a kid I went to summer camp near the park, and we'd swim in the pool every day. It was a rite of passage to jump off of the highest diving platform. Sad to see the place in ruins.

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  8. Springs Park was a big part of my life growing up. I have lots of pics from my youth at the park. I think with the opening of Carowinds it began the decline of Springs Park. The best I remember we had to buy tickets to ride the rides and swim. Before the new ool opened opening day festivities were held at the little amphitheater at the skating ring. They usually had country singers as entertainment.

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  9. Wow! Thanks for sharing your stories! I love learning the history of places like this. It's even better when I get first hand accounts! I wish I could re-visit this place and photograph it again. Now there are "Camera in use - no trespassing" signs posted everywhere!

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