This marks my 300th article for Examiner.com.
Quarry Falls Garden is actually part of Greenville's (SC) Cleveland Park, although physically separated from the main park by the intersection of McDaniel Avenue and Ridgeland Drive. It is this separation that has kept and continues to keep this section of the park and its waterfall more or less of a secret.
Built in the early 1930s as part of the main park, it is marked by the sturdy stonework characteristic of the period. About 50 yards wide and 150 yards long, the garden is split by an unnamed stream, which flows clean and clear through the center of the Garden. Today, it is a gorgeous place, replete with copious flowers and the obvious attention of the Greenville Garden Club, which has adopted the Garden.
Quarry Falls itself is a solid granite face about 10 feet high with the stream falling onto broken boulders at the bottom. These boulders are broken because of what this was before the Civil War – a rock quarry. You can clearly see the drill marks on the face of the falls. Downstream and to the side of the stream is another rock face with similar drill markings. At the base of this face is a spring-fed pool filled with water plants.
After Cleveland Park was constructed, this isolated section of the park was a secret to a lot of Greenvillians, but not to the residents of the Camperdown Mill community since the Garden sat right on the edge of the Camperdown mill hill. My grandmother lived 2 houses away from the Garden.
And, in the 1950s, the "garden" was a little different. The "garden" didn't have a name but the stream did: The Gas Branch. With headwaters up near the car barn (where the buses were serviced) on Broad Street, the stream always had a rainbow film of gas and oil on the surface. Grandmother told me of a time in the 1930s when the stream actually caught fire. This petroleum film meant you didn’t play in the water. Even us kids didn’t want to get the oily film on us. It also left a slick film on the rocks, making walking across the top of the falls very dangerous. As such, we were discouraged from going down there.
But, go there we did. We didn’t get in the water and we didn’t play on the rocks. We went for the little pool at the bottom of the rock face to the side of the stream. During the winter, the little pool would freeze enough for us to “ice skate." In the summer, it would be filled with tadpoles. A place of wonderful adventure for little boys.
The Quarry Garden is a place of history from more than 150 years ago and it is a place of beauty today. But, more than that, it is a place of my memories of times spent at Grandmother's house.