South Carolina: Colleton County

Colleton County (pop. 38,892), east of Hampton County, is the fourth-largest county (in square miles) in South Carolina.

The only Colleton County in the U.S., it was named for Sir John Colleton – one of the eight “Lords Proprietors” who were granted the land called Carolina by King Charles II of England.

They introduced the cultivation of rice to the area.

The 35-acre Colleton State Park has access to the Edisto River.

One of the state’s smallest state parks

The county seat of Colleton County is Walterboro (pop. 5,398), which was founded in 1783 as a hilly summer retreat for local planters.

Courthouse, built in 1820 in Greek Revival style

Walterboro hosts the Colleton County Rice Festival every April.

Although most of Edisto Island is in Charleston County, the town of Edisto Beach (pop. 691) is in Colleton County.

“The Greatest Beach on the Planet”

The town of Cottageville (pop. 707) has the Bee City Honeybee Farm & Petting Zoo & Nature Center.

Colleton County has an unincorporated community called Round O. It has two churches and a post office.


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South Carolina: Hampton County

Hampton County (pop. 21,090) is just north of Jasper County. It’s the only Hampton County in the U.S.

The county was named for Wade Hampton III, a Civil War general and later governor of South Carolina and U.S. senator.

In “Gone With the Wind,” Charles Hamilton served in Hampton’s regiment.

The county seat is the city of Hampton (pop. 2,808), the state’s third-smallest county seat.

Hampton County Courthouse

The Palmetto Theater (1925) in Hampton now has a variety of plays, concerts, and other events.

Remodeled in 1993

Lake Warren State Park is about four miles from Hampton.

There’s a 440-acre lake.

The Hampton County Watermelon Festival calls itself South Carolina’s longest-running continuing festival.

It began in 1943.

In Brunson (pop. 554), the old Town Hall, built in 1906, was mentioned in “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” as “The World’s Only Octagonal Town Hall Built on Stilts.” The stilts were later removed.

A model (with stilts) adjacent to the actual Town Hall


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South Carolina: Jasper County

Jasper County (pop. 24,777), the southernmost county in South Carolina, is adjacent to Georgia and just a few miles from Savannah.

It’s one of eight Jasper counties in the U.S., all named for Revolutionary War hero Sgt. William Jasper, a German immigrant and South Carolinian.

He died in the Siege of Savannah in 1779.

The county seat of Jasper County is Ridgeland (pop. 4,036).

Church of the Holy Trinity, Ridgeland (1858)

Jasper County has had the same courthouse since the county was created in 1912.

In the Colonial Revival style

The town of Hardeeville (pop. 2,952), close to the Georgia border, had its population grow by 65% from 2000 to 2010.

LIfe-size elephants outside Papa Joe’s Fireworks

The county’s pre-Civil War churches include the Gillisonville Baptist Church (1838).

Greek Revival style


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South Carolina: Beaufort County

We begin our tour of South Carolina’s 46 counties in fast-growing Beaufort County, near the southern tip of the state.

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This is the route we’ll be taking.

In 1980, Beaufort County’s population was just 65,364. In 2010, it was 162,233.

New homes on Hilton Head Island, the county’s largest resort area

The northern and southern parts of Beaufort County are connected only by the 1.7-mile Broad River Bridge on South Carolina Highway 170.

The Broad River is actually a tidal channel.

Beaufort County is composed primarily of islands – part of the Sea Islands along the Atlantic coasts of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Hunting Island, South Carolina’s most popular state park

The county seat of Beaufort County is the city of Beaufort (pop. 12,361), located mainly on Port Royal Island. South Carolina’s Beaufort is pronounced “BYOO-fert.” North Carolina’s Beaufort is pronounced “BOH-fert.”

There’s also a Beaufort County in Western Australia.

Boxer Joe Frazier (1944-2011) grew up in Beaufort.

Heavyweight champion, 1970-73

Beaufort is the home of the Kazoo Museum, located within the Kazoobie Kazoos Factory.

The museum was previously in Seattle.

Beaufort has a strong military presence, with the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and the nearby Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

The 1979 movie was filmed in Beaufort.

Author Pat Conroy based the main character of “The Great Santini” on his father, a Marine pilot; Conroy’s “The Water is Wide” was about his time teaching on Daufuskie Island in the 1960s.

Young Pat Conroy and students

Saint Helena Island has traditionally been a center of African-American Gullah culture, dating from the early days of slavery in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

The uninhabited (by humans) Morgan Island has been the home of a free-ranging colony of rhesus monkeys since 1979.

About 4,000 of them


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Minnesota: Houston County

Houston County (pop. 19,027) is in the far southeastern corner of Minnesota, bordered by Wisconsin (across the Mississippi River) on the east and Iowa on the south.

Houston County was named for Sam Houston (1793-1863), the first president of the Republic of Texas.

Also its third president

Much of the county is in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest.

The county seat is Caledonia (pop. 2,868).

Houston County Courthouse (1883)

The city of La Crescent (pop. 4,830), along the Mississippi, calls itself the Apple Capital of Minnesota.

La Crescent apple orchard

The town of Houston (pop. 979) has an International Festival of Owls every year.


Minnesota: Fillmore County

Fillmore County (pop. 20,866) was named for Millard Fillmore, the 13th president of the United States.

The only other Fillmore County is in Nebraska.

The county, along Minnesota’s southern border with Iowa, has only one stoplight – in the city of Chatfield (pop. 2,779), which is partly in Olmsted County.

The county seat of Fillmore County is Preston (pop. 1,325), which calls itself America’s Trout Capital.

Preston’s 20-foot trout

Preston’s former jail, sheriff’s residence, and courthouse (built in 1870) is now the Jailhouse Inn Bed and Breakfast.

The jail relocated in 1970.

Mystery Cave State Park is just west of Preston.

The longest cave in Minnesota that’s open to the public

The town of Harmony (pop. 1,020) and the surrounding area have the largest Amish population in Minnesota.

Many Amish moved from Ohio to Minnesota in the 1970s.

In Spring Valley (pop. 2,479), the former Methodist Episcopal Church is now a Spring Valley Community Historical Society museum.

Laura and Almanzo Wilder attended 1890-91.

The town of Fountain  (pop. 410) is the western terminus of the Root River segment of the 60-mile Blufflands State Trail.

Mostly on a Milwaukee Road railbed


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Minnesota: Mower County

Mower County (pop. 39,163), the only Mower County in the U.S., was named for John Edward Mower, a member of the Minnesota Territorial Legislature.

Mower is one of only four Minnesota counties without a natural lake, but its Lake Louise State Park (1963) has a 25-acre man-made lake.

It’s less crowded than the Lake Louise in Canada.

The county seat of Mower County is Austin (pop. 24,718), home of Hormel Foods Corporation.

Spam Town USA in 1910

The SPAM Museum in Austin is a popular tourist attraction.

“The world’s most comprehensive collection of spiced pork artifacts”

Austin is on the 338-mile Cedar River, which flows south into Iowa and eventually joins the Iowa River.

Its waters reach the Mississippi in southeastern Iowa.

Downtown Austin’s Paramount Theatre (1929) has been restored and now hosts a variety of concerts, films, and special events.

The Lovin’ Spoonful (without John Sebastian) played on March 2.

In the town of Grand Meadow (pop. 1,139), the K-12 Grand Meadow Public School has its classrooms, offices, cafeteria, and gym in five domes.

Elementary grades in one dome, secondary in another


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Minnesota: Freeborn County

Freeborn County (pop. 31,255) is east of Faribault County. It was named for William Freeborn, a member of the first Minnesota Territorial Legislature.

The county seat is Albert Lea (pop. 18,016), named for Albert Miller Lea, who surveyed southern Minnesota and northern Iowa in 1835.

Fountain Lake, one of six lakes in Albert Lea

The Marion Ross Performing Arts Center is named for actress Marion Ross, who lived in Albert Lea as a young girl.

Marion Cunningham on “Happy Days”

Early rock ‘n’ roller Eddie Cochran (1938-60) was born in Albert Lea.

He died in a traffic accident at age 21.

Myre-Big Island State Park is just east of Albert Lea.

A causeway attaches Big Island to the mainland.

The paved Blazing Star State Trail connects central Albert Lea with the state park.

Six miles long

The town of Hayward (pop. 250) claims the record for the longest game of horseshoes, set in 1930 between the postmaster and the train station agent.

It lasted five months and four days.


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Minnesota: Faribault County

Faribault County (pop. 14,553) is just east of Martin County, on Minnesota’s southern border with Iowa. Faribault County’s population reached its peak of 23,941 in 1940.

The county seat of Faribault County is Blue Earth. The city of Faribault is the county seat of Rice County. The county seat of Blue Earth County is Mankato.

Blue Earth County is north, and Rice County is northeast.

The city of Blue Earth (pop. 3,353) is on the Blue Earth River.

Faribault County Courthouse (1892)

Blue Earth has a 55-foot statue of the Jolly Green Giant, installed in 1979.

The reason is complicated.

Construction of I-90, the longest Interstate highway in the U.S. (from Seattle to Boston), was completed in 1978 near Blue Earth. A plaque and a “Golden Stripe” commemorate the event.

Similar to the “Golden Spike” at Promontory Summit, Utah

The former First National Bank in the town of Winnebago (pop. 1,437) is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1917

The town of Frost (pop. 198) was not named for ice crystals; it was named for Charles S. Frost, a Chicago architect.

Census data for Frost


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