This above circa 1905 postcard views Hartsville from the north side of Prestwood Lake (then called “the Pond”). Prestwood’s Bridge was here since the late 1790s. In 1896, Major J. L. Coker began seeking rights of way for the damming of Black Creek and the resultant flooding. There was some concern that the crossing here might be abandoned. To allay these fears, he agreed with the surrounding property owners to “have a wagon bridge built across the pond… which shall be acceptable to the County Commissioners and in the event the said Commissioners do not agree to keep up and maintain said bridge and crossing, we will do so at our own expense— ” This is now the site of the broad, four-lane U.S. Highway 15 bridge as pictured below.
A few weeks ago a Facebook friend and local citizen posed a question about the origins of Prestwood Lake in Hartsville, SC. His question arose from a “then and now” photograph that contrasted the lake in 1920 with 2015. Situated on Black Creek, the Carolina Fiber Company was built in the early 1890’s. Fueled by the company’s growing need for water, the idea of damming the creek became a reality when rights were granted in the Spring of 1896. This dam was situated just downstream from a well traveled bridge that would uniquely be situated in the relative center of the lake. “Prestwood’s Bridge” was named for Jonathan Prestwood who owned the adjoining land. During this period of history, it was common for the county to subsidize landowners who built and maintained public bridges on their land. Prestwood, was a native of Chesterfield Count and was born in 1758, near Cheraw. By 1823 this name was widely used. We know that until 1934 the maps of the area variously referred to the lake as large pond, the pond, Black Creek Lake, mill pond, and as factory pond. It was at this time that Mr. T.E. Wilson of Darlington drew a map listing the lake as Prestwood. We also know that by 1912, the term “Prestwood’s Lake” had already been used by Dr. W.C. Coker, Professor of Botany at the University of North Carolina in a work that he published. Today as we cross over Prestwood Bridge, we move along a road that thousands have traveled before us. How historic the journey from a simple creek, and bridge to impounded waters, and a major highway. Though much has changed since Jonathan Prestwood built his bridge one thing remains the same, the community; it serves is still strong and vital.