By Terry Ward
Are you looking for a unique summer day trip?
West Columbia’s Riverwalk may be the perfect destination for you. It provides a wonderful and educational record of the development of the area.
Riverwalk is a wooded trail that runs parallel to the ancient flowing waters of the Congaree River. Riverwalk is something of a museum that chronicles the history, defines geography, and boasts of the abundant wildlife that thrives in the river and on its banks. A visit is a great summer activity.
Informational signs dot the Riverwalk path.
One sign describes Friday’s Ferry, established in 1754, before the days of bridges. It was a flat boat that was poled across the river to present-day Columbia. Another sign depicts a 1740s inn or tavern that was once a center for business and entertainment. A replica of a Colonial-era inn stands at Riverwalk and houses the park’s restrooms.
Another sign on Riverwalk bears the details of the riverboat “SS Columbia.” It was a steamboat built in 1905 and it carried lumber and cotton to the Port of Georgetown via the Congaree and Santee Rivers. From Georgetown, ships from other parts of the world waited for cargo from Lexington County.
In the early 1800s, numbered Milestones were placed along the road at one-mile intervals. There are examples of Milestones on the Riverwalk trail, with a sign that explains their use.
River-level information is collected by the US Geological Survey at the Gaging Station on Riverwalk. Water data has been collected from the Gaging Station since 1934.
The Gervais Street Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in South Carolina. It is most visible from Riverwalk. The 1,415-foot-long concrete bridge opened in 1927. It was state-of-the-art when it was finished. There is a sign on Riverwalk giving the details of its significance.
Another Riverwalk sign gives the details of “Old Congaree River Bridges.” In 1827, a wooden bridge stood where the Gervais Street Bridge is now. It was burned by Confederate soldiers in 1865 in an effort to stop advancing Union troops marching on Columbia. A bridge of steel and wood was constructed in 1870. It stood until the current bridge was opened. The gigantic stone abutment from that 1870 bridge is visible.
On the west side of the Riverwalk trail sit some of the most-grand homes in the state. Congaree Downs boasts a wide variety of architectural home designs. No two of the stately homes are the same.
In addition to the natural beauty afforded by Riverwalk, there are lots of options for diners just a block from the Riverwalk in the River District.
Black Rooster, just across Alexander Road from Riverwalk is the closest place to get a bite to eat and a cool beverage. The Hideout in WeCo, Breakfast at Ruiz, D’s Wings, Terra, and Cafe Strudel are on State Street. Savage Craft Ale Works, WECO Biergarten, Al’s Upstairs, Chayz Lounge are all close-by too.
There are also several shops and antique markets on State and Meeting Streets. And West Columbia’s Meeting Street Artisan Market is open every Saturday.
Come spend a day on West Columbia’s Riverwalk. It’s an experience that will become addictive.
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