In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, we're turning the spotlight on South Carolina's six national parks.
Among them is Kings Mountain National Military Park in Blacksburg, the site of a critical battle that changed the course of the Revolutionary War. At 4,000 acres, it's one of the largest national military parks in the United States and one of just two Revolutionary War national military parks.
Significance of Park: The park was created in 1930 to preserve the battlefield where patriot forces attacked the loyalists on Oct. 7, 1780, in the battle at Kings Mountain.
The hour-long engagement was the patriots' first major victory in the South. About 1,000 American frontiersmen came together in the backcountry of the South Carolina Piedmont to surround a Tory force that had positioned itself on a rocky ridge named Kings Mountain. Unwilling to surrender to a "band of banditti," the loyalist militia charged down the mountain only to be cut down in a hail of bullets.
Things to Do: Watch a 26-minute film on the battle of Kings Mountain in the Visitor Center. Explore the exhibit area featuring relics of the Revolutionary era and listening stations that tell the story of the "Overmountain men" and the strategy they used to defeat the Tories.
Then walk the 1.5-mile wheelchair-accessible, self-guided Battlefield Trail through the woods to the top of the ridge where the bloody confrontation occurred. Interpretive signs along the way describe the battle and how it changed the course of the Revolutionary War.
If You Have More Time: Hike one of the trails in the military park and adjacent Kings Mountain State Park. The options include Clarks Creek Trail, an out-and-back six mile trek to 13-acre Lake Crawford, and Brown's Mountain Trail, a five-mile hike that leads to the highest of three monadnocks in the military park. At 1,035 feet above sea level, it offers a great view of the surrounding Piedmont.
Special Events: To honor those who fought at Kings Mountain, each year on Oct. 7 the park holds a morning wreath laying ceremony at the US Monument, an 83-foot obelisk dedicated in 1909, followed by a program in the amphitheater at 3 p.m., the time the battle began.
Revolutionary War reenactment groups present programs throughout the year showcasing militia service, weapons, equipment and life skills of the 1700s, including leatherworking, blacksmithing and woodworking.
The Details: Located on SC Highway 216 in Blacksburg, SC, Kings Mountain National Military Park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended weekend hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.nps.gov.