Download Full Text (5.7 MB)

Download Title Page, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Executive Summary, Origin of Project (375 KB)

Download Section I: Current Mission Statement for Park (284 KB)

Download Section II: Statements of Significance (284 KB)

Download Section III: Primary Interpretive Themes (269 KB)

Download Section IV: Site History (3.2 MB)

Download Section V: Interpretive Products (2.2 MB)

Download Section VI: Suggestions for Further Research (371 KB)

Download Section VII: Appendices (536 KB)


Sesquicentennial State Park is one of the most popular state parks in South Carolina and is well-known in the Columbia metropolitan area as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the urban scene. Driving through its entrance gates from busy Two Notch Road, visitors find themselves immediately in the midst of a pine forest. Past the ranger’s kiosk a winding road follows the contours of the gently rolling terrain, offering occasional glimpses of a mysterious fire tower, an evocative two-story log house, and eventually the open vista of a large lake with white concrete buildings and lawns along the shore. This beguiling patch of nature in the midst of the city has long been a place for recreation and for learning natural history in an “outdoor classroom.” Although an historical plaque notes that the park was established by the Sesquicentennial Commission, there is little at the modern park to help visitors see that the site has both natural history and a deep human history. (A couple of recently placed waysides now explain the role of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and a civil rights challenge in the 1960s.) This report presents some preliminary findings on the human history of the park – as well as the history of the site before it became a park.

The report is divided into seven sections. The first section is the park’s current mission statement. Sections two and three present a set of “statements of significance” and “primary interpretive themes” which seek to identify important patterns of history at the site as ways to make the past meaningful to public audiences. The fourth and largest section offers fresh research on the history of Sesquicentennial State Park by “periodizing” it into five eras: the pre-park history, the role of the Sesquicentennial Commission of 1936 in creating the park, the management of the South Carolina Commission of Forestry, the ten-year struggle to desegregate South Carolina’s state parks, and the management of the South Carolina State Park Service, the current steward of the park. Section five offers ideas for how this history might be communicated to visitors in a cost-effective manner, using strategically placed QR codes in public areas and along existing walking trails. Because this is a preliminary report on park history, section six contains suggestions for further research to help guide future researchers, within or beyond the South Carolina State Park Service. The research team discovered much new information but much more can be uncovered. Lastly, section seven is an appendix with an historical timeline, bibliographies, additional information on individuals significant in the pre-park era, and a list of people who worked to establish a museum on the history of Columbia as one legacy of the Sesquicentennial commemoration.

Publication Date



South Carolina, Park Service, public history, Sesquicentennial State Park


History | Public History


© University of South Carolina, 2019

A Layered History: Interpreting Cultural Resources at Sesquicentennial State Park