Last Summer, I received an email for a park opening and the picture included was most interesting. It showed a suspended “pier” over a body of water. After a little more reading, I discovered it was an invitation to the grand opening of Quarry Park in Winston-Salem. The park is the site of the former Vulcan Material quarry that has filled with water over the years. The funding to convert the quarry into a park was part of a $30.85 million parks and recreation bond approved in 2014. More than 200 acres of mostly wooded land surrounding the former quarry make up the park and what I saw on my recent visit is just the first phase which included the observation pier, restrooms, and picnic tables.
It is quite impressive when you drive up and see the centerpiece of the park, an elevated observation pier over the quarry. It provides good views of the quarry, the surrounding parkland and the city skyline in the distance. After parking my car, I walked around the lower portion of the observation area and was able to see the pier overhead. In paying homage to the former quarry, the park sign is bolted to a large rock and the exterior walls of the restroom facility are smaller rocks contained between the wall and a wire fence holding them in place. For those who might be apprehensive about going out on the suspended pier, there were multiple areas to take a peek at the water and wildlife below from the safety of the ground.
I was also intrigued by what I first thought was sculpture and later realized it was also a place for relaxing. These concrete circles have curved bottoms so as to form seats. I think it could be used with 2 people seated side by side or as I preferred in the lounging position. A visitor using it in my preferred way was kind enough to let me take her picture for demonstration purposes. I then made the trek out to the end of the observation pier. Walking over the restrooms and out to the end, I was able to look down into the depths of the quarry and see the various strata of rock. While at the end, I chatted with a gentleman who grew up in the area and remembered as a kid hearing the blasting from the quarry and was pleased that the area had been turned into such a peaceful place to relax and enjoy the fresh air.
The project also included construction of the Waughtown Connector, a greenway that connects the Waughtown area to the park and extends to the Peachtree Greenway to provide access from Reynolds Park and the Salem Creek Greenway. While there, I saw numerous people walking, running and biking on the greenway. Next time I think I need my bike to explore all of these connecting parts.
If you are interested in learning more about this park and perhaps planning a visit when in Winston-Salem for the NCRPA Conference in October, visit http://www.cityofws.org/Departments/Recreation-Parks/Parks-Greenways