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.
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 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…