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Great Falls

Great Falls (c.1900; 4.4 sq. miles; population: 2,141).

Canoeing on the Catawba River

Winding streets, enormous rock outcroppings and a variety of recreational activities are among the features of Chester County's river town, Great Falls. Great Falls got its name from nearby waterfalls on the Catawba River. The town helped set the stage for the economic rebirth for the Carolinas more than 100 years ago when Duke Energy began construction of its hydroelectric plants there. The Rocky Creek Hydroelectric Station celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009.

Duke also played an instrumental role in the founding of Republic Cotton Mill and the town’s first bank. The three mills were later bought by J.P. Stevens Company, the major employer in Great Falls for most of the 19th century. All three mills have since closed. The old Mill No. 2 is the only one still intact, and is under supervision of the Forfeited Land Commission.

The town has done several streetscape projects to improve the appearance of the downtown and Flopeye districts. Great Falls has also been working to attract more tourists to view its natural and cultural resources to plan for long term growth and success as suggested in the town's master plan.

The Great Falls Home Town Association (GFHTA) holds a Heritage Celebration in September each year which features tours of Duke Energy's hydro stations. The association also sponsors the Battle of Beckhamville Re-enactment, a Colonial Banquet and the Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration each year.

The Rocky Creek Trail, part of the Carolina Thread Trail has recently been opened to the public.  The always popular, Flopeye Fish Festival held over Memorial Day weekend each year, attracts visitors from all over the state and beyond.  The 2010 festival marked its 27th anniversary. The Avant Garde Center for the Arts in the downtown area holds a summer arts program for youth and has provided space for performances, special events and community gatherings. The War Memorial Building, is popular gathering spot for birthday parties, wedding receptions, and other celebrations.

Duke Energy has announced a 20-year recreation plan that will have significant impact on the Great Falls area as part of its re-licensing agreement for the Catawba/Wateree area. The plan includes scheduled water flows in the short and long river bed that will recreate the Falls of the Catawba and will provide an opportunity for increased recreational activities, specifically white-water rafting.