Saturday, February 23, 2008

Conway, SC

We took a quick trip south of South of the Border to visit friends in Conway, SC. The original plan was to spend Friday at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, but when chilly rain intervened, we opted to explore the historic district in Conway. A trip that turned out to be more interesting than I anticipated.

Fast Quips:

Copyright 2008 Kimberli Buffaloe
Conway is situation on the Waccamaw River, which, I learned, is the only river that originates in a Carolina Bay (Lake Waccamaw in N.C. For an interesting description of the Waccamaw River, check out SC's DNR Heritage Preserves site.) Once used for vital commerce, the river is now the place to go for recreation. A wide, paved walkway, park benches, and an inviting grassy belt make up the Riverwalk, which residents use for exercise, weddings, or just to meander over while enjoying the exotic Lowcountry beauty created by moss-laden trees reflecting in the blackwaters of the Waccamaw River.

The term "blackwaters" refers to rivers that originate in the coastal plains. These waters are high in tannic acid, which seeps into the water from the leaves of cypress trees. This gives rivers such as the Waccamaw a glossy black color, like the water at Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner, SC. Oddly enough, though black in color, the water is actually clear.

Copyright 2008 Kimberli Buffaloe

 Information on Carolina blackwater can be found at the following sites: 

www.fws.gov/nwi/bha/SandT/download/SCWetlands.pdf (pg 20) 
www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/cede_blackwaterriver/1) 
Classification of the Natural Communities in North Carolina (pg 141)

Originally named Kingston, Conway was founded around 1733 or 1734, which makes it one of the oldest communities in the state (www.cityofconway.com/departments/visitors/history.html)
 
Copyright 2008 Kimberli Buffaloe
Conway LOVES the multitude of live oak trees growing throughout the city, which plays host to the ashen gray moss that shrouds the historic district in long, tattered sheets like no other Lowcountry city I've seen. Our friends told us the mighty oak, some of which date from the 1700's, is protected in Conway, so much so that city fathers built several roads around a few of the trees. Imagine driving down a typical unmarked two-lane neighborhood street only to find a rather large tree in your path. You wait as an oncoming car passes by, then you steer into the left lane and circumvent the island built around Conway's honored resident. These trees are magnificent, and they create a hauntingly beautiful picture, but we were told accidents often occur when people (inebriated or unfamiliar with this phenomenon) jump the curb and hit the trees at night.
Copyright 2008 Kimberli Buffaloe

To our delight, Conway is beginning to bloom. In addition to Camellia bushes, we found blooming tulip trees, flowering bulbs such as daffodils and what may be Snowbells or snow drops, and buds on several azaleas throughout the city. Spring is just around the corner, so if you're near Conway in the next few weeks, stop by the historic district to enjoy what is sure to be a brilliant display of color. But if you opt to drive instead of walk through the downtown area, watch out for the trees.

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