Columbia and soon to be home

Trip Start Sep 09, 2005
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Flag of United States  , South Carolina
Friday, September 23, 2005

well, well, well. The final day of training concluded successfully. We accomplished all we needed to do. I left instructions for the work to be done before I visit again. Do you believe it? They say they are looking forward to my return, in less than 4 weeks! Some people never learn.

I drove back to Columbia tonight, about an hour's drive so I will be close to the airport for my trip home tomorrow. Home...what is that? It sure seems like I have been gone quite a while. Hey, I just realized.... my coworker's better get prepared. I am returning. Peace and quiet will be a thing of the past.

I hear already that some stupid Dianne tricks are going to be mentioned upon my return. I thought I only did those while traveling, but apparently not. I guess I can do silly things even when I am not at the office.

I don't have much to write tonight, so here is some information on Sumter. I know you were just dying to know this stuff:

When visiting Sumter, you find yourself in a City of approximately 45,000 citizens who love living here. You may even decide to call Sumter home, as so many of our citizens have chosen to do through relocation, retirement or assignments.

Sumter County has changed its name and boundaries several times. In 1785, Claremont County was formed as a part of Camden District; a part of the County was later split off in 1791 to form Salem County. Claremont, Clarendon, and Salem counties were combined into Sumter District in 1800.

Clarendon was once again split off in 1857, however, and another small part of Sumter County went to form Lee County in 1902. This part of the state began attracting English settlers from the lowcountry and from Virginia in the mid-eighteenth century. The area known as the High Hills of Santee, a narrow ridge along the Wateree River, was famous for its healthy climate and rich soil.

Sumter County eventually became a leading agricultural and industrial region. During the Civil War, General Edward Potter's Union troops raided the area, and a skirmish was fought at Dingle's Mill on April 9, 1865. In 1941, Shaw Air Force Base was established near Sumter, and it continues today as an active duty fighter base.
Confederate General Richard Heron Anderson (1821-1879) was a Sumter resident, as were opera singer Clara Louise Kellogg (1842-1916) and educator Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955).

Swan Iris Gardens - this is straight from the brochure

The beautiful black waters of Swan Lake form the setting for the spectacular Iris Gardens. The lake is dotted with colorful islands, and wildlife is abundant. The only public park in the United States to feature all eight swan species, Swan Lake-Iris Gardens is also home to some of the nation's most intensive plantings of Japanese iris, which bloom yearly in mid to late May and last until the beginning of June. The garden also boasts many other floral attractions, including colorful camellias, azaleas, day lilies, and Japanese magnolias. A Braille Trail enables the sight-impaired to enjoy the scents and sensations of the gardens. The gardens come alive with color during the Christmas season with the nighttime Fantasy of Lights display, featuring more than 1,000,000 varicolored sparkling lights in an array of colors and shapes.

Swan Lake-Iris Gardens began in 1927 as a private fishing retreat for Hamilton Carr Bland, a local businessman. At the same time he was developing the 30 acres of swamp on what is now West Liberty Street, he was landscaping the grounds of his home with Japanese iris. They failed miserably, and after consulting expert horticulturists from as far away as New York, he ordered his gardener to dig up the bulbs and dump them at the swamp. The following spring, they burst into bloom. The accidental garden, referred to by Southern Living magazine a "lovely mistake," has since been developed into one of the finest botanical gardens in the United States.

Following Bland's lead, in 1938 Mr. A.T. Heath, Sr., deeded the additional acreage on the other side of Liberty Street to the city with the stipulation that Mr. Bland develop this part of the gardens. Today, the Heath Gardens encompass most of the park's 120 acres. Mr. Bland deeded the Bland Gardens to the city in 1949. The two gardens are joined by the McDuffie Overpass, a gift to the city from the McDuffie family in 1994. The most recent addition is the Heath Pavilion, opened in 2002 at the rear of the Heath Gardens on property given to the city by the Heath family in 1998.

The magnificent swans are gathered from all over the world, representing Australia, North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Originally imported by Mr. Bland in the late 1920's, the Australian Black swans have been in residence the longest, and some of the birds living in the garden at present are their descendants. Other species were added over the years, with the donation of Bewick swans in 1997 by Yuasa-Exide Corporation completing the collection. Visitors are permitted to bring bread and crackers for feeding the swans, who are usually friendly except during the early spring mating season, when reasonable caution should be exercised as they become quite territorial at this time. Canada geese, mallards, egrets, herons and anhingas also call the gardens home.



Sumter's county population of approximately 108,000 citizens have arrived through the heritage of Sumter, Shaw Air Force Base, a large industrial base and retirees looking for a pleasing year round climate and convenient location to virtually every reason to live in the Carolinas. Sumter is centrally located, only a 90 minute drive to the beautiful beaches and a short three hour drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 8th largest city in South Carolina, we provide the amenities of a large city while keeping "that home town atmosphere."
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