I wanted to go out and see the Old Santee Canal Locks. Someone had told me that I could go up the Cooper River to Lake Moultrie and then go through the locks to Lake Marion and I wanted to see whether that would work.
I found out that the park closed at 4:30 and it was about 20 miles from our son's house. Normally we would have taken the kids along, but our grandson doesn't get home until after 4, so that wasn't an option in this case.
We got to the park at 11:30. It was obviously off season as they were rebuilding the Entrance kiosk and they had window washers all over the visitor's center. The entrance to the visitor's center was through some rebuilt lock gates.
Admission for two Seniors was $3.00. Now it would be $2.00 each.
The first exhibit was about a Confederate torpedo ship which was used against a Union Ironclad. They also had a kind of diorama of a bluff in the area with stuffed animals (there were fighting eagles suspended at the ceiling, and what looked like a real live oak tree inside the building - photo 4), and a model of building the canal (photo 3).
We saw a movie on the building of the canal. The purpose of the canal was to shortcut the route planters from the interior of SC took to get their products to Charleston. They had been going down the Santee River to the Atlantic, and then had to go south along the coast to Charleston, which meant offloading the river barges into something more able to cope with the Atlantic. The canal connected the Santee River with the Cooper River which goes right down into Charleston. Most of the canal is now underwater since the building of a dam on the river.
I was confused by the fact that it said it was the first canal built in the US, and I thought that the Dismal Swamp was earlier. But the Santee Canal was completed in 1800. And the Dismal Swamp, while it was surveyed by George Washington in 1763 wasn't completed until 1828. [They didn't consider that the locks on the Potomac 'counted' because they didn't connect one waterway with another the way the Santee and Dismal Swamp did.]
Bob and I watched a video on snakes at the Visitor's center, and then we went out and walked around the deck area over Biggin Creek past where you could rent canoes (although this would not be the time of year to do that). Rental for a canoe for half an hour is $3.00
Bob went down onto the wooden walkway first and scared away a great egret which was out in the marsh. We walked around and over the Cooper River inlet and we saw some ospreys in a tall tree, and also an anhinga on a dock post. We came back to the Visitor's center after passing by the Stony Landing house (which had workers on the roof).
The park has a lot of ecological programs for children.
While visiting a friend in the area, she dragged me to Cypress Gardens for the day. I actually really enjoyed myself. I'm not sure if it's because I had never seen anything like it, and we certainly have nothing like it in Wisconsin, but it was a great experience.
Cypress Gardens is a large swamp with gardens and exhibits. The black water swamp has an abundance of cypress trees growing in, alligators, and lots of bugs!
The most enjoyable part was the flat bottom boat tour of the swamp area. It must be said that I have an irrational fear of swamps (something about leaches from my childhood I think!) but the boat tour was very interesting. It was basically a high school kid on summer break rowing us around the swamp and filling our heads with all kinds of knowledge. You could also rent a canoe and paddle yourself, but that was too much for my fear to handle. Apparently the swamp is frequently used for Hollywood movies (check out The Notebook, The Patriot, North and South, Cold Mountain) and they even had some of the set from The Patriot still in the water. Good thing they pay Jude Law the big bucks, because I wouldn't want to wade through there!
After the boat tour, we took the path around the lake to find some of the special areas he had pointed out to us. There was a wedding area and a small rice paddy to be seen, but mostly it was beautiful for the flowers and plants. If you're going in the summer wear some bugspray (probably you could have guessed that!)
They also have on the grounds a butterfly house, some giant turtles, a visitors center, and a few other interesting sections.
505 Rc Dennis Blvd Hwy 52 Byp, Moncks Corner, SC 2
Good for: Business
A lot of people around here go to Lions Beach, which is a beach area on Lake Moultrie. There is recreation and campsites, and it's a good place to go jetskiing. But I have to wonder why these people just don't go to the ocean beaches, because they're not that far away!!! It is less crowded... but I prefer the ocean. Located on Lions Beach Road in Moncks Corner.
Like many of the gardens near Charleston, Cypress Gardens once was part of a plantation. Now, Cypress Gardens is owned by Berkeley County, right next to Charleston county. Cypress Gardens offers a unique tour of the swamp in a boat, and also walking trails and beautiful gardens. You can also see an aquarium, reptile center, and butterfly house.
There is an abbey in Moncks Corner, SC, which is just 20 minutes northwest of Charleston. The abbey, Mepkin Abbey, was founded in 1949 by Trappist monks. The abbey has beautiful gardens overlooking the Cooper River. Visitors are welcome to come and view the gardens and the lifestyle of the monks. Located on Dr. Evans Rd. in Moncks Corner.
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