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The Beginnings of Congaree National Park and the Francis Beidler Audubon Center

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Our crew spent a glorious day filming at the Beidler Forest Audubon Center recently, the original portion of which was purchased from the Beidler family in the 1960’s. Francis Beidler was a Chicago businessman who with partner Benjamin Ferguson established the Santee Cypress Lumber Company in eighteen eighty one, purchasing one hundred sixty five thousand acres in central South Carolina. This company was extremely profitable as old growth cypress lumber was highly desirable for building. The timber operations and mills were usually near large “blackwater” creeks to facilitate moving the enormous., ancient cut logs. Sadly, for the country’s economy but ultimately fortunate for the ecosystem, a slump in business in 1915 prompted Mr. Beidler to shut down all his timbering for a time. Eventually, portions of his properties became the Congaree National Park and the Francis Beidler Audubon Center.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.