This state park on the banks of Lake Murray invites visitors to enjoy the surrounding waters, appreciate the serene environment, and view the abundant wildlife. Though often associated with the Columbia area, the park is actually located in the Newberry County town of Prosperity.
It is named for Billy Dreher, who owned the land that became Dreher Island. The Dreher Shoals Dam – also known as the Saluda Dam – also bears his name. It was built on the Saluda River between 1927 and 1930, creating the lake and the Saluda Hydroelectric Project. In 1943 the Lexington Water Company, which built the dam, merged with South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G). Today Lake Murray and Dreher Island are owned by SCANA, the parent corporation of SCE&G.
Dreher Island State Park actually consists of three islands, and together they provide guests with 348 acres of land and 12 miles of shoreline along Lake Murray. The State of South Carolina began leasing the property in 1970, forming the Dreher Island State Recreation Area. As more infrastructure was added to the site, it became known as Dreher Island State Park.
In 1972 the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg began clearing bomb fragments left over from World War II practice tests. In fact, a 12-acre island in the middle of Lake Murray known as Bomb Island was where preparation for United States air raid of the Japanese Home Islands took place. Today the island is a sanctuary for purple martins, a big draw for Dreher Island guests each summer. The homesite where BIlly Dreher once lived can be seen below.
Dreher Island State Park offers five lakeside villas for rent, though reservations for these cabins with a panoramic view of the lake must be made well in advance. Two lakefront camping areas offer 97 paved sites for both RVs and tents with electrical and water hookups and 15 designated tent sites for tents only.
Of course, the most popular activities at Dreher Island State Park take place on the lake. Boating, fishing, and swimming are all sanctioned within the state park, and those who tire of a day on the water can enjoy a nature trail, geocaching, and birding.