It was a renewed interest in logging that prompted action to protect what is today Congaree National Park.
Environmental activist Harry Hampton rallied South Carolinians in the 1950s to protect the floodplain, where Congaree Indians had once hunted on the floodplain and fished in the river until around 1700, when diseases introduced by European explorers wiped out the tribe.
In 1976 – 40 years ago, an anniversary being celebrated this week – legislation was signed creating Congaree National Monument. It later became the United States’ 57th national park.
This park, in Hopkins in Lower Richland County, is prized for many things, chief among them its trees – bald cypress, loblolly pines, elms, hickories, maples, oaks. Walking among these trees offers a sense of wonder and peace.
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In honor of its anniversary, we’ve compiled 40 facts about Congaree, with help from the park.
Original extent, in acres, of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest
Land originally protected
Total park land today
Designated as federal wilderness
Largest intact tract left in Congaree
Species of trees
Champion trees (state and national)
America’s largest loblolly pine, found in Congaree
Height of that loblolly in simple terms
Current tallest building in downtown Columbia
Largest cypress knees in the park
Largest circumference bald cypress tree
Circumference of champion tree with the largest girth, bald cypress (co-state champion)
Average tree canopy height
Bird species observed
Native mussel species in the Congaree River
Reptiles and amphibians
Species of snakes
Species of fish
Different plant communities
Distinct moth species identified in Congaree
14,500 square miles
Watershed that flows into the park
Water an individual tree can absorb during the summer
15 feet plus
Flood stage for Congaree River
Average number of times the park floods each year
Amount Cedar Creek, a black water creek, drops in 16 miles
Miles of Cedar Creek Canoe Trail
Miles of park trails
Students reached in educational programs
Volunteers who worked at the park in fiscal year 2016
Year Hernando De Soto first explored this area
Year Harry Hampton begins grassroots campaign for Beidler tract protections
Year of rally with 700 people demanding “Congaree Action Now”
Year Congaree National Monument established
Year designated International Biosphere Reserve
Year designated Globally Important Bird Area
Becomes Congaree National Park
Compiled by Dawn Kujawa, firstname.lastname@example.org
Congaree National Park turns 40
The stories of the individuals and movement to create what is today Congaree National Park will be highlighted as part of the park’s 40th anniversary celebration.
Several activities are planned for the week, providing a range of opportunities for visitors to connect with the park. Some of these activities include guided hikes, canoe tours, special programs in the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, and a ceremony at 2 p.m. Tuesday, which will celebrate the park anniversary. Numerous displays and exhibits will showcase the park stories and local artist Stephen Chesley will be unveiling a new painting to be displayed at the park.
A special evening program will be offered Friday and will feature a cast of characters who will bring the colorful history of Congaree National Park to life.
All activities are open to the public and are free.
100 National Park Road, Hopkins. www.nps.gov/cong