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Swan Lake is perhaps one of Furman University’s most iconic and relaxing features. On a beautiful day such as today, it is common to see folks from campus and the greater Greenville community walking, biking, or relaxing lakeside. The lake itself is not a natural occurrence. It came into being in the mid-1950s when the designers of the new Furman campus dammed a small tributary of the Reedy River. For the first 30+ years of its existence, Swan Lake was an active part of campus recreation. The lake was a popular destination for swimming, sunning, fishing, and water sports such as boating, and windsurfing. There was even the tradition of “laking”: the practice of seizing a Furman student on his/her birthday, carrying them to the lake, and throwing them in!

The Digital Collections contains an assortment of photographs depicting the construction and early history of the lake including the following photographs from Furman University Historical Images:


The beginning of Swan Lake’s construction. At this point, the water itself only covered a small portion of ground.


Three men work on the construction of Swan Lake.

As the Lake aged, algae and dangerously high levels of bacteria led to health concerns and by the 1990s, all lake recreation was put to a stop. In 2006, a task force of Furman students, faculty, and administrators convened to identify the problems with the lake and seek out potential solutions. This effort, known as the Lake Restoration Project, has led to significant improvements for the lake and the surrounding areas. To learn more about the Lake Restoration Project, visit their official website.


Taken in Fall of 2007, this photograph shows Swan Lake with incredibly low water levels.

If you have the opportunity, come on out and enjoy the beauty and rich history of Swan Lake.