This 630-acre preserve borders the Congaree River and the City of Cayce, and protects stands of locally rare Atlantic White Cedar along Congaree Creek. Archaeologists have found tools, arrowheads, and other evidence that people have lived in and around the preserve for nearly 12,000 years. The Cherokee Trail, leading from the Appalachian Mountains to the coast, runs through the preserve. The trail was later used by European traders and military forces during the Revolutionary War.
The Congaree earthworks, located on the north side of Congaree Creek, were built in the final months of the Civil War by John R. Niernsee, one of the most prominent architects (he designed the State Capitol) and engineers in South Carolina at the time. The fortifications represent a final defense for the City of Columbia prior to the arrival of General ShermanÍs Union Army on February 15, 1865.
Boaters who wish to travel Congaree Creek to the Congaree River should be prepared to portage over downed trees that may obstruct the creek channel. Hikers can walk an easy 2.5-mile trail loop and view wildlife and historic clay quarries for nearby brickworks. For additional information contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at (803) 734-3893.