Issaqueena Dam is a popular warm weather location with students. Many students and locals use the dam as a waterslide or as access to the now-missing rope swing. There's a sign warning people to "Stay Off The Dam!" (the sign has been removed as of 4/27/05), yet there will be warm summer days where there's barely room to stand because of all the people. Often, more "locals" of all ages can be found here than students -- an excellent chance to taste some of the local culture if you're not a native South Carolinian.
As of 5/24/09, there is a rod iron fence on both sides of the dam, as well as signs posted to "Stay off dam" and "No trespassing." There also appears to be some sort of camera atop the dam, possibly to keep an eye on illegal activity.
The dam is at the Northern most point of Lake Hartwell and separates the brown, murky water of Lake Hartwell with the clear, clean water of a smaller lake. The undisturbed lake above provides an excellent area for swimming and exploring in an area composed primarily of government land.
An aerial shot (borrowed from Google's satellite maps) is shown to the right. Note the different colors of the lake. In the Google Maps link below, the dam is located at the end of the long lone road ending in the middle of a peninsula.
During World War II, the US Army Air Force used the surrounding land area and the lake as a bombing range. There was a land range and a lake range. The North American B-25 Mitchell twin-engine medium bombers flying from Greenville Army Air Base, (later Donaldson Air Force Base), would drop bombs as they flew down low over the lake and the bombs would hit the water and bounce upwards, sometimes almost hitting the aircraft, as they aimed for a cloth target floating on the lake. The attack technique was called "skip bombing", much like skimming a rock across the water, and it was used very successfully against enemy ships in the Pacific theater.
The Rope Swing
Slightly downstream from the dam (on the right bank, if you're looking from the dam) was an enormous tree with an exceptionally high rope swing. Someone, possibly a forestry student, used professional tree-climbing gear to attach it to a very high point on the tree, and swinging from its height was an amazing experience that gave an estimated two seconds of freefall. A platform on the hill still exists which swingers used to swing off from.
The rope swing had been cut down, presumably by DNR officials, several times but it kept being put back up. After the drowning of a student near the rope swing (but not as a result of the rope swing) it was cut down a final time, and when it was again replaced, DNR officials cut the entire tree down. The stump still remains.
How to Get There
It is located off College Avenue. Travel across US 123, beneath the railroad tracks, and across the second bridge over Twelve Mile River. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn left onto Old Six Mile Road. Follow Old Six Mile Road for about 1.5 miles and take a hard left onto a long dirt road. As of 2007, a locked gate was put at the beginning of the road, but it is still accessible by bicycle. It would be a very, very long walk. Get to the end of the dirt road (it always takes longer than you think) and you'll be able to see the Dam on your right.
The dam is reportedly still accessible by the road on the other side of the dam.