Landsford Canal State Park
Ever Heard of the Carolina Blue Sky? Here it is.
2051 Park Drive, Catawba, SC 29704
Landsford Canal State Park
Landsford Canal State Park is one of those gems you must visit if in the Charlotte, NC area. This gem is located in South Carolina right outside of Rock Hill, SC. During April the cankerworms are appearing so I had to dodge a few of them. I caught one on video even though it was difficult with my camera. All photos and video appearing in this article were taken by me using a Kodak Easyshare camera. Check out the videos of the cankerworm and the river further below.
Favorite activities at this park include walking trails, fishing, picnicking, nature watching, and visiting the awesome canal structures from a bygone era. Whenever I want to treat myself to something special, this is the place I go. This is my favorite place to get away from it all to take in the sound of water and birds and nature, and it is only about a 50 minute drive from my house. The trail is an out-and-back easy 3 miles. The trail that runs along the river is called the Nature Trail and is about .75 miles one way. It starts at the Park office and ends at the Spider Lilly overlook.
At that point the Canal Trail takes over to the end. The Canal Trail is a total of 1.25 miles one way. It starts at the Park office and follows the Landsford canal all the way to the end.
Hear a Park Ranger talk about Landsford Canal State Park.
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A Few Nature Photos of Landsford Canal State ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Landsford Canal State Park is on the National Register and is located in Chester and Lancaster counties on 448 acres. The Catawba River has a rich history and rare hardy wildflowers. This park features well-preserved remains of the canal system that made the river navigable commercially from 1820 to 1835. In the 19th Century, merchants bypassed the un-navigable shoals by using a system of canals built along the Catawba and Wateree rivers. The historic ruins of the canal include culverts, locks and stone bridges which can still be seen at this park.
It costs $5 per person to enter the park, but this is a common fee for most of the South Carolina State Parks.
Locks, a mill site and the lockkeeper’s home are among the numerous intact structures from that era. To date I have not seen the lockkeeper’s home but have included many photos of the large granite canal ruins and general nature photos.
This park is home to the rare and endangered rocky shoal spider lilies and the park attracts a variety of birds, including nesting bald eagles.
Other Interesting Places by This Author
- Hiking the Moses Cone Carriage Trail -- Blowing Rock, NC
The Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is an estate honoring the late Moses H. Cone in Blowing Rock, NC.
- Hiking the Stone Mountain Loop Trail -- Roaring Gap, NC
Located on more than 13,500 acres in Wilkes and Alleghany counties, Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina offers cascading waterfalls and cool mountain streams, quiet forests abundant with wildlife, scenic hiking trails and a historic mountain
- Hiking the Dupont State Forest Park - Cedar Mountain, NC
Dupont State Forest is a 10,000+ acre tract located near Hendersonville, NC. This forest was used to shoot the box office hit “The Hunger Games” and also scenes from “The Last of the Mohicans”.
The Upper Lifting Locks
The stone structure shown in the following photos is a double lifting lock and was used to lower or raise boats from one level in the canal bed to another. Landsford Canal has one other similar pair of lifting locks located near the Park office.
Together they carried boats through a change in elevation of 32 feet. Wooden doors, called mitre gates, were hinged by iron straps into the rounded channels on either side of the lock. There were three pairs of gates at this point. When shut, each pair of gates pointed upstream at an angle so that they were held securely closed by water pressure, and were impossible to open until the water level on either side of the gates was equalized.
The water depth in the locks was adjusted by opening and closing small doors over the channels which pass through the stone walls. These doors moved vertically in a frame attached to the masonry and could be adjusted from the top of the wall. The remains of the fastenings for this hardware and the square openings for the channels are still evident at this site.
Most of the finely cut granite used in the locks and other structures came from a nearby quarry. Other features were built out of rough field stone and stone cut out of the canal bed. The stone was shaped by hand at the site, usually by a mason’s apprentice. The finished stone was put in place under the direction of a master mason. Smaller stones were placed by hand, and larger stones were hoisted in place with a windlass, a device made of timers and pulleys. The mortar was then worked into the spaces between the stones and pointed to give a finished appearance.
More Photos of the Upper Lifting LockClick thumbnail to view full-size
Upper Section of the Canal
The area is home to the largest population of the Rocky Shoals spider lilies in the world. These spider lilies grow in only three states: South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, but South Carolina has the largest population of them.
The Rocky Shoals spider lily puts on one of the greatest “shows” on the East Coast and has adapted to live in a very harsh environment, due to the swift water of the river. Their peak bloom is about mid-May to mid-June and these plants cover the river in a blanket of white. The easy-to-walk nature trail leads to a lookout deck for viewing.
This crossable spot on the river played a role in the Revolutionary War. Both British and American troops crossed here before and after pivotal battles.
During the 19th Century the rivers of the South Carolina Piedmont were notorious for flooding. This lock was used to safely lower boats into the canal when high river levels threatened to damage the banks and structures. During periods of normal water levels the gates were often left open. The fine stone work seen in these ruins was constructed by Irish Masons under the direction of master contractor Robert Leckie of Scotland.
Remains of the Guardlock
Catch These Spider Lillies in Full Bloom
- Catch the Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies in Full Bloom
- Landsford Canal State Park
Landsford Canal State Park
- Catawba River - Rocky Shoals Spider Lily - Landsford Canal State Park
Landsford Canal State Park sits along the Catawba River, home to the largest known stand of the rocky shoals spider lily and nature and canoeing trails.
Some More Nature Photos of Landsford Canal State ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Sounds of the Catawba River - Listen to this quick video of the soothing sounds of the Catawba River.
A Quick Glimpse of a Cankerworm in Action, Swinging from its Web. Once the lens zoom in you can really see it.
Thank you for reading. Any comments are welcomed and have a great week!
Signs of Early Fall at Landsford Canal State ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Michelle Dee