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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Odd Jobs

Many of the tasks we do here at J. Strom Thurmond COE are not cutting edge, in fact, many of the jobs are downright menial.  But in the grand scheme of things, they all add up to making the Thurmond Lake COE campgrounds, day use areas, beaches and boat ramps some of the best in the country.

We’ve patrolled some of the areas for problems.  Here I dragged a small fallen tree off the road.  Thankfully it was pretty light because Hercules I’m not.


Another day we had to drive to all the campground gate houses.  Not a big job, or a hard one but they are so spread out around the lake it takes almost a whole day to cover them all.  About 160 miles, about half on the South Carolina side of the lake and the other half on the Georgia side of the lake. 


At the end of the season when the campgrounds close, the gate houses have all their equipment removed, such as radios, phones, computers, TVs, cash registers, etc. to prevent them from being stolen during the closed season when no one is there to keep an eye on them.


We had a load of fire extinguishers from the gate houses that were given their annual service and we dropped them off at the buildings.



Simple work, but important and it was good to give a look over of the gate houses to make sure there are no problems or any vandalism.  The electronic gear will be moved in as it gets closer to the season and the gate house staff personnel arrive.

One task we weren’t involved in but many of the other volunteers participated in was with the Christmas Tree recycling program.  The trees were spread around to the many boat ramps around the lake to be dropped in the water for fish habitats.


The volunteers headed out with portable drills to drill holes in the tree trunks for eye bolts to be screwed in, which rope and weights like cinder blocks can be attached to anchor the trees in the water.

We went out instead to do some more boundary line inspections and pin hunting.  We’ve come to enjoy this work and we’re getting pretty good at it.  We get to walk around all kinds of places, from deep in the woods,


to around boat docks,


as well as houses built around the lake. 


Sometimes those pins are very visible and we find them quickly.  Often the pins are marked with a fiberglass pole.  We still have to look for and verify the pin is there because over the years, the poles have been know to be moved by people or even removed so they can construct houses, fences and other structures on COE property.



Here is a fence built six feet over the boundary line, an example of why the lines need to be inspected.  You can see the boundary line’s orange mark on the tree.


Here a person built their deck and fish pond  over the COE property.


Every once an a while, the pins are really difficult to find, or we never find them.  We searched for a pin location near a scrap wood pile.  We got plenty of false signals because of old nails in the ground.


We dug several holes after getting hits with the metal detector.


We finally realized the pin was buried under the scrap wood pile.  Can you see the orange indicator dot on the tree?


How about now?  The pin is buried under all that scrap wood.


The rangers will be contacting this homeowner to remove the wood pile.  Glad that’s not in our job description!


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



  1. I think I would be a bit worried about going onto the "property" of the people who built on park land. They might not be happy to realize they will need to move fences and ponds. Hope they don't turn the dogs loose on you!

  2. Glad you don't have to deliver any of the bad news to people who probably knew just what they were doing when they encroached and didn't think they'd get caught. So glad you are enjoying your tasks. Sure wish you could get back on the road.

  3. We thank you and all the volunteers for making one of our favorite camping spots so nice. All those "little" jobs really add up to make Thurmond Lake one of the most beautiful camping places in South Carolina!!!

  4. I'd be curious to find out just how the 'gobbermint' deals with all those folks who don't know where their property lines are? Actually, they very well know where their property lines are, are you kidding?
    We have some slightly similar situations in town here, where folks might cut the grass or plant a garden out on city property, along a right of way, say. The city kind of turns a blind eye, since it's nothing permanent. HOWEVER, if you decide to put a deck or shed out there, there will be a notice posted in fairly short order. Just so everybody knows.

  5. WOW! You sure are putting the work into that place. At least it looks good on your resume. I hope they appreciate all the work you're doing to make the park shine. We love the COE campgrounds. Hopefully, the ones we pick to stay it will be as tiptop as the one you're working on.

  6. A workamper's job is never done! You and Marti are really doing a great job at your first gig :-)

  7. You are helping to keep America's campgrounds safe and free from those pesky folks who are encroaching on government property. Wel done and keep up the good work.

  8. All those important things that most purple don't think of to run a park, and all the off season work takes sfeveio many months to repair allllllll of the equipment that gets broke all summer long..... And to try to fit in updates or improvements besides....

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  9. I would definitely let the folks with guns deliver the bad news:) Hope you packed a lunch when you checked all the gate shacks.

  10. I had wondered about that. If these people are knowingly (and we know they are aware) building over the line, what stops them from moving the pin?

    1. You are right, there have been instances when that occurs, but that is why we check. The COE surveyors also mark trees along the boundary lines with orange paint about every 75 or so feet and the pin locations have three trees marked in a triangle with a dot on each tree facing the pin. So by standing where dot lines from the three trees cross, that is where the pin should be.

      The pin may be buried over time by natural debris, or by landscaping. We've seen both. If we can't find the pin, or suspect it has been moved, we note the location and then later the rangers come along with more sophisticated equipment to verify.

  11. What a great way to recycle old trees. Glad we have great volunteers like you guys to keep the campgrounds and parks in good shape.