Springs Park: Other Memories.

Every morning before I get into uniform I take my coffee and whatever else along with my Touch and check my Gmail, FB, and Twitter (Hi, I’m Scott and I’m a twitterholic!) out on the front porch. Peaceful way to start the day. This morning was a pleasant surprise. I received this email in the Searching the South inbox. Thought some of you would find it interesting.

Scott:
I’m Chuck Little, a native of Fort Mill.  I graduated from Fort Mill High School in 1984 and from USC in 1989.  I’ve been a French Horn player in the Air Force Band Program for nearly 20 years and currently live in San Antonio, TX.  I’ve REALLY enjoyed your posts on Springs Park.  I remember going there as a child, both to the park and to Camp Springs.  I swam on the Ft. Mill Swim Team from 1974 to 1989, and remember swimming in the pool at the park, for the Leroy Spring Aquatics Championships each of those years, as well as NUMEROUS summers at the Camp Springs Aquatics School, and a few SC Long Course Swimming Championships there as well.  Your ventures there brought back so many childhood memories.  Thanks so much for that.  Believe me, if I had been in Fort Mill when you had made those urban explorations, I would have jumped at the chance to help you out.

The reason I’m writing is to give you a little perspective from someone who grew up in Leroy Springs and Co., Inc.  My father was Director of Recreation Adminstration for LSC from 1962 until his retirement as Vice President in 1998.  For a couple of summers in the 1970’s, he was the Park Manager.  So I asked him for some background.  I knew most of it, but needed to verify some facts about Springs Park.  So here goes.

The park was built by Col. Springs as a recreation area for Springs employees as well as residents of the surrounding area.  I’m not sure what date it happened, but Leroy Springs and Co., Inc. took over operation of the park until it closed in 1989.  During the whole time it was operated by LSC, the land on which the park was located was leased for a REALLY good rate from a company that is now called Cresent Resources.  In the 1980’s with Carowinds flouishing, attendance at Springs Park declined significantly, to the point that it began to cost more to keep the park operating than the revenue that was being generated.  So good, bad, or indifferent,  the decision was made to close it.  (In my opinion, if there were any doubts about closing it, Hurricane Hugo and his damage to the park seemed  “seal the deal.”)  Once the park was closed, and everything auctioned off that could be, the land reverted back to the original owners.

From your post of this past March, I can give you a little detail about the map that you posted.  The Ferris Wheel platform location is pretty accurate.  I’m not sure about the Kiddie Boat Ride location.  As I remember, it was closer to what used to be the bowling alley, further up the hill towards the pool.  The slab foundations are probably from the old carousel, as well as the clubhouse and administration office.  The clubhouse was a structure similar to the old clubhouse at the Fort Mill Golf Club, which burned down in the early ’80’s.   The two middle indications of slab foundations are  probably what’s left of a structure built around the fuselage of a B-24 Bomber.  The wings of the bomber became sceened in porches and the fuselage became a more indoor type gathering place.  There was another fighter plane on which children could climb and sit in the cockpit.  It was back towards the skating rink.  As I understand, both planes were sold.   If you get out there again, you might be able to see what’s left of a  railroad track, which went along the water for about a half mile.  As well, back behind the kiddie pools, there might still be foundations for some picnic tables.

I know this is a LOT of information.  But I felt like I needed to add some input, as I practically grew up at Springs Park during the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  If you have ANY questions, or need clarification, I would be more than happy to talk to you.  You can reach me at this email address or at my cell phone

Thanks again for your work.  You’ve given a lot of us a chance to re-live our childhoods.

Chuck Little

Chuck you made my morning and I have been itching to get back home and post this all day. Thanks for the information! It is always welcome and every little bit gets us closer to rebuilding Springs Park, at least in our minds eye. Also thanks for the kind words. I wish this was my job, cause that would be the coolest thing ever for me. If you’re ever back towards home, look me up and we will go exploring at what seems to be a favorite place for both of us.

“Get off the highway!”

Thanks for the reminder that I need to get off my butt and get back to what I love as well. The girls are gone this weekend. Wonder what I can get into…

Scott

12 thoughts on “Springs Park: Other Memories.

  1. Wow, I’m glad Chuck posted. I have many fond memories of playing out there in the early 70’s and I second Chuck, I would have gone with you had I known. I live about 40 minutes from there now and am curious as to what is left of the roundhouse and train track. I have a pic of me on the train if you are interested.

  2. Scott, Chuck, Robert;

    I am a native of Lancaster, S.C. I worked at Springs Park as a young boy from 1956 through 1959. I was fortunate to operate many of the rides during that time period. My father ran the bowling alley during the summer months and winter league play. I ran the “Kiddie Boat Rides” many times. The boat ride was located behind the Club House, not near the bowling alley. I could talk many hours about the PARK.

    I also coached the Lancaster Swim Team in 1965 and ’66. I remember Tommy Gauther coached at Fort Mill swim team.

    Ask your family if they remember Brady Austin, Mrs. Clara Hammomd, Miss Righton Richards, Jim Tutterow, Dave Huffman, Shelly Sutton, Bill Bigerstaff, Howard Knox, Marion Boan….

    I’ll stop now!! I could talk for hours about LeRoy Springs and Company!!!!

    Respectfully,

    Bucky Hardin

    Chuck-Was your father Jim Little???

  3. I too have many memories of the park as a child, as my grandparents were both employed by Springs Mills. I found your comments by searching for information on the park. I wish my children could enjoy the “simple” pleasures of such family gatherings today. My memories will have to be enough to share with them for now. Thanks for your information, i really enjoyed reading your experiences as well. I remember how terrified I was to dive off the top platform at the pool for the first time, and then did it over and over and over….lol

  4. Hey I would just like to know if anything ever happened at springs because a couple of my friends have pics of the place and there is things in these pics that shouldnt be there since that was a place of happiness. If you could plz write me on my email tatumsmommy2013@gmail.com. I would really like to Lean more about this place and there is not alot about it on the internet.

  5. Bucky
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I grew up in Fort Mill and my dad worked for Springs until he retired years ago. When I was born in 1952 my dad was Personal Secretary to Colonel Springs. I was on the Fort Mill Swim Team for most of the 1960′s and enjoyed competing against all the area teams – except for those swim meets at the old Mill Pool in Lancaster! That was a trip! I was friends with Skip Bauknight, Gary McWhorter and Don Dixon. Tommy Gaither was my coach and Wally Prince was the Recreation Director in Fort Mill. I too enjoyed going to Springs Park and Camp Springs. Especially the big events like the annual Aquatics meet and practicing there as part of the Leroy Springs team that went to State and other big meets. I even got into platform diving there as well. It is sad to see what happened not only to the park but to a great company such as Springs.

  6. My husband says the three cement slabs sticking out of the ground were part of the picnic tables. They also had pony rides. They were down below the mini ferris wheel. Probably the first place I ever rode a pony.

  7. I remember going to the park many times, skating at the skating rink and my dad played music in a lot of the shows they had. I remember most of them were country music shows with such greats as Faron Young. So heartbreaking to see this place abandoned. Our youth will never know what it was like to have a wonderful place to enjoy family. Everyone in too many different directions these days and have no time to stop and enjoy the moment. Very sad.

  8. As I was reading all of the comments, they brought back memories of growing up in Kershaw, SC, and working for The Kershaw Recreation Center. Marion Boan was the Center Director after he retired from coaching at Kershaw High School. I worked at the Springs Pool in Kershaw as a lifeguard from the summers of 1961 until I joined the Marine Corps in 1965. I also swam on the Kershaw Swim team those summers.
    I remember, I think it was the Opening Day of the new Park’s new swimming pool, Jon Cook, Mickey Clyburn and I were told to report to Springs Park to help lifeguard that day. No one was allowed to go off of the top of the diving tower, but the three of us kept asking “Coach” Boan to
    get us permission to be the first ones to go off the top level. Finally toward the end of the day, he told us to go ahead and do it. I remember how high it looked when we got to the top. Well the only way down for us was off the tower!! It was a feeling I have never forgotten.
    It hurts to see what has become of the park today. What a shame!! But this 73 year old man still has great memories of a “special” place!!

      1. I was on the Fort Mill swim team under Tommy Gaither in the early to mid 1960’s and loved competing at Springs Park. I recall swimming against Chuck Young and Rusty Metz (spelling?)

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