Cliff Rogers was just eight days old when A.W. Huckle wrote to Rock Hill’s mayor and council in 1947, advocating for a more beautiful city.
Huckle, at the end of his tenure as editor and publisher of the Evening Herald, encouraged the city to plant trees and shrubs in parks, and along thoroughfares and byways. He donated $10,000 to start the effort.
Tuesday – 64 years after Huckle wrote his letter – Rogers stood near the Cherry Road interchange with Interstate 77, the whizzing cars just loud enough to make conversations slightly difficult.
The interchange was, Rogers said, something beyond Huckle’s comprehension. The interstate system was not started until the mid 1950s and it was many more years before it came to Rock Hill.
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But Huckle understood making a good first impression. Rogers helped implement another piece of that vision, announcing the A.W. Huckle City Beautification Committee will spend about $100,000 to plant 144 trees on the east side of the I-77 interchange, from Cherry Road to Celanese Road.
The plan calls for mature trees about 4-inches in diameter and ranging from 15- to 18-feet tall. Planting the trees should start within two to three weeks. The project should be finished in about six weeks. The plans calls for red maples, willow oaks, southern magnolias and crepe myrtles.
Mayor Doug Echols said the project is another piece in the puzzle to improve Cherry Road from the interstate to the Catawba River.
The beautification “will say to everyone this a distinctive place, a gateway to South Carolina. It will say, ‘welcome, we’re glad you’re here.’” Echols said.
Other projects along the route include Pennies for Progress funds to improve Cherry Road, the on-going construction of a new bridge over the Catawba River and development of the Riverwalk with residences and recreational offerings.
Merchants located near the interchange said the beautification is a good first step in attracting more businesses. Also needed, they said, is better lighting around the interchange.
See video below