Nature at its best in Newberry County, South Carolina

by Joy Boswell (2002) with additions by Charles Horn (2005)

The history behind Lynch’s Woods Park is almost as diverse, complex, and rich, as the land within it.  If you were to visit the park today, you wouldn’t see the park of yesteryear, but, in your very presence there, you’d be re-establishing what it once was; a place to commune with neighbors, and with nature.

In the very fact that it still exists, Lynch’s Woods exhibits uniqueness – a 286 acre area of virtually pristine upland forest within the city limits of Newberry.  An area that provides vital habitat to a multitude of flora, fauna, and natural landscapes, not to mention the humans that seek solace, or sport there.  In recent years the park has begun to attract more and more visitors, but there was a time when Lynch’s Woods was teeming with activity.  Lynch’s Woods was once part of a larger tract of 700 acres with fairgrounds, a racetrack, and an American Legion Hall.

Our earliest records show that the land was owned by a Rev. Elijah Lynch (or Linch) in the 1840’s, hence the name, Lynch’s Woods, and was deeded to one Job Johnstone in 1849.  In the 1930’s with the Depression becoming a harsh reality, the Johnstone family deeded the land to Newberry County and City for taxes.  From that point on, for many years, civic groups and organizations contributed to the area with structural enhancements.  The Civilian Conservation Corps established roads, stone headwalls, and a camp.  The Work Projects Administration also constructed a camp, and erected the fairgrounds in 1936.  Throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s sporadic improvements were made, such as the introduction of electricity to the property, due to the efforts of the Girl Scouts, who also ran a camp there, and the Exchange Club.  From 1978-1980 however, Lynch’s Woods was closed.  Natural stresses on the land at the time necessitated some logging to be done, and though the forest was aided, the road became impassable.  Around this time, some forward thinking individuals and associations introduced a mission of reclamation and rejuvenation.

In the early 1980’s, the Saluda National Guard was called upon to repair the road, but the park remained closed to the public.  In the mid-1980’s, the city deeded their half of the property to the county.  Then, just when things were beginning to look up for the park, flood waters from a storm in 1986 washed out one of the larger bridges, and again made the road impassable. This time, the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District (NSWCD) consulted with the East Piedmont Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the two agencies were able to secure funding from the US Forest Service for a laminated, free span, timber bridge – another unique aspect of the park.  The NSWCD, having kept up with the sporadic improvements and hindrances, felt that they too could make some valuable contributions to enhance and safeguard the property, and offered their assistance in managing the resources there.  When the county disbanded the Park Commission in 1991, the NSWCD agreed to develop, manage, and maintain the land in conjunction with county administrators.

From 1991 until the present, the Newberry Conservation District has spearheaded the development and management of the park, obtaining approximately $140,000 in grant funding (see list of contributors below), and partnering with various organizations to bring Lynch’s Woods back into our everyday vocabulary.  Among the many accomplishments from these efforts is a restroom facility, an education/information kiosk, 7.5 miles of hiking and biking trails, 6 miles of equestrian trails, parking areas, picnic tables, and plans for further improvements.  Negotiations in the early 1990’s has resulted in the park being incorporated into the Palmetto Trail as the Gateway to the Upstate, open to visitors from near and far.

Contributors to the 1991 development of Lynch's Woods: SC Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism / SC Department of Transportation / SC Legacy Trust Fund / Palmetto Trails / Laura Gaynor / Rick Attaway / Charles Dukes
Other assistance provided by:
 County and City Councils / SC Department of Natural Resources / Natural Resources Conservation Service

It is a miracle that Lynch’s Woods has survived through all these years, particularly with the more recent urban expansion, but the miracle workers here are all of those people that fought to protect its natural integrity.  For the re-opening of Lynch’s Woods to be a success, it has to be more than a recreational park, and more than a place to commune with nature.  It has to be an illustration of a functioning community, one in which gratitude, and not graffiti exists; respect, and not rage; humility, and not hate.  If you can enter the park with that sense of common ownership, Lynch’s Woods awaits you!

Natural disasters have damaged Lynch’s Woods over the last 20 years.  In April 1984, a tornado hit downtown Newberry then skipped to the park.  In several places groves of loblolly pine trees were felled.  As a result about 4 hectares (10 acres) of land was clear cut that summer.  In July 2000 a severe thunderstorm created severe damage to several areas of the park.  The strong winds associated with this storm knocked down over 100 mature trees (72 were personally counted along the road by Charles Horn), including individuals of loblolly pine, tulip poplar and white oak.  As a result of both of these disasters, openings were generated within the woodland that quickly allowed for growth of seedlings (mostly loblolly pine) and saplings.

his site developed and maintained by Dr. Charles Horn, Professor of Biology, Newberry College - updated 01 May 2006
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