Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is a 26,276-acre United States national park, located in central South Carolina. Congaree National Park offers various recreational opportunities such as hiking, fishing, camping, and canoeing. Congaree National Park is known for its unique natural features such as magnificent stands of bald cypress and tremendous biodiversity. Since its establishment, Congaree National Park has been designated as a national natural landmark, a globally important bird area, and an international biosphere reserve.
Backstory and Context
From prehistoric natives to Spanish explorers, Revolutionary War patriots to escaped slaves, loggers and conservationists, this forest landscape is rich in the stories of those who have called it both a home and a refuge, and have helped to make it the Congaree National Park it is today. Prehistoric individuals used places like Sampson's Island as a place to set up camp while within the floodplain to hunt and gather food. In the 18th century, as the land was settled, the transportation routes crossed the floodplain. Thisrequired the services offered at places such as Bates Ferry to help get goods and materials across the river before bridges were built in the 20th century.
Landowners in which were using the land to raise livestock built large mounds that offered protection to their cattle and other animals from the regular flooding that covered the landscape. Native Americans called this land home for thousands of years, finding life in the many natural resources that the floodplain provided. African-American slaves used the floodplain as a refuge and place to find liberty. After the emancipation they hunted, fished and used Cedar Creek as a place for baptisms.
In the late 1890s, loggers began harvesting timber for Francis Beidler's Santee River Cypress Lumber Company, but due to the generally inaccessible terrain, their work had halted by the late 1910s. Harry Hampton and number of very dedicated conservationists fought to have the land saved as a national park when logging resumed in the 1960s. Congress rewarded their efforts by setting Congaree aside as a national monument in 1976. Since its establishment, Congaree National Park has been designated as a national natural landmark, a globally important bird area, and an international biosphere reserve.
National Geographic Society and National Geographic Partners, LLC. 2009. Congaree National Park. Website.