Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Paris Mountain State Park

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal that operated from 1933 to 1943. It was designed to assist unemployed, unmarried men between the ages of 18 and 25 (who had difficulties finding a job during the Great Depression), as well as provided unskilled manual labor for the conservation of natural resources on rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. At one point as many as 300,000 men were enrolled, and in nine years 2.5 million young men participated, sending $25 out of their $30/month wage home to their families. Nearly 3 billion trees were planted, 800 parks constructed nationwide, State Parks upgraded, forest firefighting methods updated and a network of service buildings and public roadways built in remote areas [1].

Mountain Lake
We have taken many of our visitors to Paris Mountain State Park, located right here in the Upstate and one of those built by the CCC. Easy-to-get and cost-effective materials such as local stone and wood were used in creating these State Parks and the design principles intended these structures to be in harmony with nature. All this can still be seen in the preserved stone and timber exterior of the renovated bathhouse (currently serving as the Park Center), and a number of other buildings in the Park. Because of this history, as well as the lakes and dams built by the Paris Mountain water company in the 19th century, Paris Mountain SP is listed as a historic district on the National Register.

The most well-dressed kids in the park. You know, with matching cold weather gear and all.
Historically the region was within the territory of the Cherokee Indians. In 1765 an Irishman from Virginia named Richard Pearis settled in Greenville county and married a Cherokee woman, gaining the trust and land of the natives. Legend has it the chief passed on the responsibility of protecting the land to his daughter and her husband, and when the husband sold the mountain, the daughter of the chief killed her husband. What isn’t legend is that the name “Paris Mountain” is a variation on “Pearis’s mountain.”

In the 1890s there was a popular resort named the Altamont Hotel not far from current-day Park boundaries. Eventually it was sold to N. J. Holmes, who founded the Altamont Bible and Missionary Institute there, later known as the Holmes Bible College. It isn’t possible to visit this historic structure though, as it burned down in 1920.

One of the earliest uses of the mountain by the city of Greenville was as a source of water between 1890 and 1916. Numerous lakes and dams in the park were built in 1890 by the Greenville City Water System as part of the reservoir. When the Table Rock Reservoir was put into service in 1928 the Paris Mountain supply was no longer needed; however, numerous water control structures still remain within the Park.

The old water control mechanism at the dam at Mountain Lake
Located in the Piedmont region of the US, Paris Mountain is a monadnock, a mountain that stands alone in an area. Over 2,000 feet in elevation but only a 30 minute drive from downtown Greenville, the State Park is a popular destination for bicyclists, hikers, birdwatchers, fishermen, boaters and many others looking to escape the city. George Hincapie, a Tour De France participant and native of Greenville, is known to train in the park. I wonder if we saw him in France last year?

Park hours and entrance fees, as well as more information on camping, fishing and events can be found on the official Paris Mountain State Park website.


[1] Source:

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