This guest post is written by local writer and HubCulture Inc. board member Gary Henderson.
We’ll never know if it was intentional or an oversight that the mill workers and their families who died in the 1903 Pacolet River were never honored with a remembrance marker. But now it really doesn’t matter. On Tuesday, November 15 at 10 a.m., a beautiful new memorial site will be dedicated to the memory of the dozens of people who perished in the early-morning flood waters of June 6, 1903. The site features a sculpture by former HUB-BUB Artist-in-Residence Ron Longsdorf that’s set in the middle of a newly-landscaped garden.
A memorial to the victims of the 1903 flood has been a dream of mine since I wrote the hundredth anniversary story of the flood for the Herald-Journal. This week beautiful interpretative signs were installed to help visitors understand the story of the event that still stands as the worst flood in South Carolina history. Seventy-five homes and four textile mills were completely destroyed in the 12-mile stretch from Converse to Pacolet. Building this memorial preserves a piece of Spartanburg County history that has been all but forgotten.
There were many collaborators who help make the memorial possible, and I thank them all. Still, I owe a special thank you to Susu Johnson, Bobby Walden and Sue Schneider at Spartanburg Water, Kevin Parris at Spartanburg Community College and Ricky McAbee at Roebuck Nursery for their support. Without their efforts and financial support this memorial to the 1903 Pacolet River flood victims would not have happen.
What we’ve done here is the final chapter of the flood story, written one hundred and eight years too late.