Stretched along the Catawba River along the South Carolina fall line, the park is home to the well-preserved remains of the canal system that made the river commercially navigable from 1820 to 1835. Locks, a mill site and the lockkeeper’s home are among the numerous intact structures from that era.
Out in the river is one of the largest known stands of rocky shoals spider lilies, tough plants that hang tight in the swift water and bloom spectacularly in a huge blanket of white in late May and early June. An easy-to-walk trail along the river leads to a viewing deck.
This crossable spot on the river (that’s what a ford is, of course) also played a role in the Revolutionary War, as both British and American troops under Cornwallis and Sumter crossed here before and after pivotal battles.
Fishing, picnicking, nature watching (including the resident pair of bald eagles) and studying the canal structures and the interpretive signage all are favorite activities at this park in the Piedmont.