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Connected Communities Project Spotlight: The River Alliance

Guest blog by Sheila Starkey with the River Alliance, a Connected Communities grant recipient

The River Alliance’s Connected Communities project focuses on the evolution of the 12,000 Year History Park on Congaree Creek in Cayce, SC. The park sits on 350 acres and includes more than two miles of ADA accessible trails, bridges, and boardwalks. Our goal is to add visitor amenities throughout the park that increase awareness of the rich history of the area.

While many people visit the park for its natural beauty, many are not aware of its historical significance. The trails wind around Historic Earthworks, First Fort Congaree, and other areas rich with history including 12,000 years of continuous human occupation. Our Connected Communities project will take visitors on an adventure as they learn about the area’s heritage while walking the beautiful natural and historical resource.

The first phase of the project is underway and the installation of 12 interpretive panels along the trail will begin soon.  These signs are based on a Civil War archeology study that was completed through an American Battlefield Protection Program grant in 2015.

Additional exhibits will be added throughout the park during the project’s second phase, which will begin later this summer.

In addition to offering visitors self-guided tours, these exhibits will enhance ongoing history walks currently offered at the park, led by National Park Service-trained volunteers.

What’s next? The exhibits are just one step in a bigger plan, culminating with a Visitor’s Center built at the beginning of the trail. A preliminary design of the center is already complete and the next step is securing funding for the project. With these improvements, the 12,000 Year History Park will become a tourism destination for vacations, staycations, and daycations for years to come.

Learn more about the Connected Communities initiative here.