South Carolina: Oconee County

Oconee County (pop. 74,273) is in the northwestern corner of South Carolina. The only other Oconee County is in Georgia.

The word “Oconee” is derived from a Cherokee word meaning “land beside the water.” The stress is on the second syllable.

Lake Jocassee

Oconee State Park is in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the community of Mountain Rest.

Whitewater Falls is nearby.

The county seat of Walhalla (pop. 4,623) was settled by German immigrants. It has an Oktoberfest every October.

The Oconee County Cage (circa 1900) is on display outside the Oconee Heritage Center. It was used as traveling quarters for chain gang workers.

14x8x7 feet

The Walhalla Graded School (1901) now houses the Walhalla Civic Auditorium.

Used for plays and concerts

The city of Seneca (pop. 8,102) was the birthplace (in 1957) of John Edwards, former U.S. senator and vice-presidential candidate.

He ran with John Kerry in 2004.

Westminster (pop. 2,743) hosts the annual South Carolina Apple Festival in September.

The town also has Mayberry Days in April.

The Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel is an incomplete railroad tunnel, dating from 1856.

Now a public park

NEXT STATE: WYOMING (coming soon)


South Carolina: Pickens County

Pickens County (pop. 119,224) is west of Greenville County. It is one of three Pickens counties in the U.S.

All three were named for Andrew Pickens (1739-1817), a hero of the Revolutionary War.

The county seat is the city of Pickens (pop. 3,126).

Pickens County Courthouse

Pickens County is best known as the home of Clemson University, located in the city of Clemson (pop. 13,903). Clemson University, founded in 1889, is a public university with about 20,000 students.

Tillman Hall

The city of Central (pop. 5,159) is not in the center of the state; it was named for its central location on the railroad line between Charlotte and Atlanta.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was born in Central in 1955.

The city of Easley (pop. 19,993) hosts the annual Big League World Series.

For ages 16-18

Table Rock State Park is on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Table Rock

Baseball great Joseph Jefferson “Shoeless Joe” Jackson (1887-1951) was born in Pickens County. His father was a sharecropper.

Joe started working in a textile mill at age 6 or 7.


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South Carolina: Greenville County

Fast-growing Greenville County (pop. 451,225) is the most populous county in South Carolina. In 1960, the population was 209,776.

Downtown Greenville

The county seat is Greenville (pop. 60,709), located on Interstate 85 about halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta.

Greenville was once known as “The Textile Capital of the World.” Today, it is the home of the International Center for Automotive Research.

Associated with Clemson University

Greenville is also the home of Bob Jones University, a Protestant university with about 4,000 students, and Furman University, a private liberal arts university with about 3,000 students.

The Bell Tower at Furman University

Falls Park on the Reedy was built on the site of a former textile mill in Greenville.

Pedestrian bridge over the Reedy River

The Greenville Drive of the Class-A South Atlantic League play at Fluor Field at the West End (2006).

Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox

NBA basketball player Kevin Garnett was born in Greenville in 1976, and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson was born in Greenville in 1941.

Class president at segregated Sterling High School

In City View (pop. 1,254), adjacent to Greenville, the former Monaghan Mill (1902) was converted to loft apartments in 2006.

The mill closed in 2001.

Paris Mountain State Park is north of Greenville.

Lake Placid has swimming and fishing.

Campbell’s Covered Bridge, built in 1909, is near the town of Gowensville. It is the state’s last remaining covered bridge.

Closed to traffic since the 1980s


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South Carolina: Anderson County

Anderson County (pop. 187,126) is north of Abbeville County, along the border with Georgia. It was named for Robert Anderson (1741-1813), a Revolutionary War hero from South Carolina.

There are four other Anderson counties – in Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.

Anderson is the 11th-most-common surname in the United States.

Lake Hartwell is a large reservoir, mainly in Anderson County.  It was created by the construction of Hartwell Dam on the Savannah River in 1959.

962 miles of shoreline

The county seat of Anderson County is the city of Anderson (pop. 26,686).

Former Courthouse (1898)

Anderson has been known for many years as The Electric City; it was credited as the first city in the U.S. with a continuous supply of electric power – from a water mill on the Rocky River. Today, the county is known for its many automotive supply and plastics companies.

The restored Chiquola Hotel in downtown Anderson now has condominiums.

Built in 1888.

Anderson University is a private university affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. It has about 3,000 students.

Founded in 1911

The 2003 movie “Radio,” starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Ed Harris, was based on the story of Anderson resident James Robert “Radio” Kennedy.

Statue of “Radio” at Hanna High School

The town of Pendleton (pop. 2,964) was the birthplace of Samuel Augustus Maverick (1802-1870), later a Texas politician and land baron. He was the source of the term “maverick.”

“An independent-minded person”


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South Carolina: Abbeville County

Of all the counties in the U.S., Abbeville County (pop. 24,417) comes first alphabetically.

The only Abbeville County

The area was settled in the early 18th century by French Huguenot farmers; they named it for Abbeville, France.

On the Somme River

The South Carolina Abbeville County is across the Savannah River from Georgia.

John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), U.S. vice president and senator, was born in Abbeville District before it was a county.

Also secretary of state and secretary of war

The county seat is the city of Abbeville (pop. 5,237).

Abbeville County Courthouse (1908)

The Abbeville Opera House (1904) is connected to the Courthouse.

218 seats

The Frazier-Pressley House is a three-story, octagon-shaped house.

Built in 1856

Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville was built in 1860.

In the Gothic Revival style

The 373-foot Prysmian Copper Wire Tower in Abbeville is recognized as the tallest structure in South Carolina. It is used in the manufacture of power cable.

Built in 2009

The town of Due West (pop. 1,247) is the home of Erskine College, a Christian liberal arts college established in 1839.

About 600 students


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South Carolina: McCormick County

McCormick County (pop. 10,233) is South Carolina’s smallest county in population and second-smallest in square miles.

It was formed in 1916 from parts of Edgefield, Abbeville, and Greenwood counties. It is the only McCormick County in the U.S.

McCormick County Courthouse (1923)

The city of McCormick (pop. 2,783) is South Carolina’s fourth-smallest county seat.

Downtown McCormick

The McCormick train station dates from 1911.

Charleston and Western Carolina Railway

The Lower Long Cane Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church dates from 1856.

Near the town of Troy

Savannah Lakes Village is on Lake Strom Thurmond on the Savannah River, between South Carolina and Georgia. The lake was created by the construction of the Thurmond Dam in 1951-52.

Golfing along the reservoir

The unincorporated community of Modoc (pop. 256) was named for Native Americans from northern California who were moved to the area after the Modoc War in 1872-73.


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South Carolina: Greenwood County

Greenwood County (pop. 69,661) was formed in 1897 from parts of Abbeville and Edgefield counties. The only other Greenwood County is in Kansas.

Lake Greenwood was formed in 1935-40 by the construction of Buzzard’s Roost Dam on the Saluda River.

It has 212 miles of shoreline.

The county seat is the city of Greenwood (pop. 23,222).

The former Greenwood High School (1926) now has apartments.

Greenwood is well-known for its annual Festival of Flowers.

Held every June

Lander University, located in Greenwood, has about 3,000 students. It began as a private college in 1872 and became a public university in 1973.

Old Main, Lander University

The Swingin’ Medallions are a band from Greenwood. They had a hit in 1966 with “Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love).”

They’re still touring.

The State Theatre in Greenwood (1934) reopened in 2007 as the Greenwood Community Theatre. Greenwood’s Auto Drive-In opened in 1945 and reopened in 2008.

The State Theatre had a million-dollar renovation.

Cokesbury (pop. 279) is the home of a historic building called the Masonic Female College and Cokesbury Conference School.

Built in 1854

It is unclear how the town of Ninety Six (pop. 1,998) got its name. The town was moved two miles east in 1852; the original site is now Ninety Six National Historic Site.

Old Ninety Six


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South Carolina: Laurens County

Laurens County (pop. 66,537) is one of two Laurens counties in the U.S. The other is in Georgia.

It was named for Henry Laurens (1724-1792), a South Carolinian who succeeded John Hancock as president of the Second Continental Congress.

He was imprisoned in the Tower of London during the war.

The county seat is the city of Laurens (pop. 9,139).

Laurens County Courthouse (1840)

Andrew Johnson, a North Carolina native who became the 17th president of the United States, was a tailor in Laurens in the 1820s.

Impeached by the House of Representatives

The Capitol Theatre (1926) in Laurens has first-run movies, concerts, and other events.

It closed for movies in 1964 and reopened in 2007.

Singer James “J.T.” Taylor, best known as lead singer of Kool & the Gang, grew up in Laurens.

Born in 1953

The city of Clinton (pop. 8,490) is the home of Presbyterian College, a private, liberal-arts college founded in 1880. It has about 1,300 students

Their nickname is the “Blue Hose.”

The town of Fountain Inn (pop. 6,017), partly in Greenville County, was the hometown of one-legged tap dancer Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates (1907-1998).

He appeared many times on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”


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South Carolina: Union County

Union County (pop. 28,961) is one of 17 Union counties in the U.S. Its population reached a peak of 31,360 in 1940.

The count seat is the city of Union (pop. 8,393).

Union Carnegie Library (1905)

Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site is near Union. It was the home of South Carolina Gov. William H. Gist.

He was elected governor in 1858.

The Buffalo Cotton Textile Mill in Buffalo (pop. 1,266) is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It dates from the early 20th century.

The Musgrove Mill State Historic Site commemorates a Revolutionary War battle.

The battle was in 1780.


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South Carolina: Spartanburg County

Spartanburg County (pop. 284,307), west of Cherokee County, has the fourth-largest population in South Carolina. It’s the only Spartanburg County in the U.S.

The county seat is Spartanburg (pop. 37,013).

Morgan Square, downtown Spartanburg

Spartanburg is the headquarters of the Denny’s Corporation, founded in 1953.

More than 1,600 restaurants worldwide

The Spartanburg area was once known as “The Lowell of the South” because of its many cotton mills. Arcadia Mill No. 2 (1923) is now the Mayfair Lofts.

Mayfair Mills went bankrupt in 2001.

The University of South Carolina Upstate, founded in 1967, has about 5,400 students.

Formerly USC Spartanburg

Wofford College (1854) is a liberal-arts college in Spartanburg. It has about 1,500 students.

Associated with the United Methodist Church

Amtrak’s “Crescent,” which runs from New York City to New Orleans, stops at Spartanburg in the middle of the night.

The station was built in 1904.


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South Carolina: Cherokee County

Cherokee County (pop. 55,342) is the fourth-smallest county in South Carolina in square miles. It was formed in 1897 from parts of York, Union, and Spartanburg counties.

It is one of eight Cherokee counties in the U.S. It’s unclear which one Randy Newman was writing about in his song “A Wedding in Cherokee County.”

She will laugh at my mighty sword.

The county seat of Cherokee County is Gaffney (pop. 12,414), which calls itself the Peach Capital of South Carolina. It was a center of South Carolina’s textile industry until the 1980s.

Gaffney’s Peachoid water tower

Limestone College in Gaffney was founded in 1845 as the first women’s college in South Carolina. It became fully coeducational in the 1960s.

Winnie Davis Hall (1904)

Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry started the baseball program at Limestone College in 1987.

Disastrously traded to the Indians for Sam McDowell after the 1971 season

Actress Andie MacDowell was born in Gaffney in 1955.

In “Groundhog Day”

Blacksburg (pop. 1,848) was once a center of iron-ore mining. It now has an annual Iron City Festival.

Cowpens National Battlefield commemorates the Battle of Cowpens in the Revolutionary War.


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South Carolina: York County

York County (pop. 226,073), on the border with North Carolina, is in the Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area. It’s one of five York counties in the U.S.

The Charlotte Knights of the Triple-A International League actually play in Fort Mill, S.C. The team is scheduled to move to a new stadium in downtown Charlotte – about 15 miles away – for the 2014 season.

Knights Stadium, Fort Mill (1990)

York County is bordered by the Broad River on the west and the Catawba River on the east. Lake Wylie is a reservoir on the Catawba River.

Created in 1904

The county seat of York County is the city of York (pop. 8,189).

York County Courthouse (1914)

The Sylvia Theater, in a 100-year-old building in downtown York, has movies and a variety of concerts and other events.

The largest city in York County is Rock Hill (pop. 66,154). Located about 25 miles south of Charlotte, it is the fourth-largest city in South Carolina; its population has doubled since 1970.

Rock Hill City Hall

Winthrop University in Rock Hill is a public university, founded in 1886. It has about 6,000 students.

Tillman Hall (1894)

Kings Mountain National Military Park, northwest of York, commemorates the Battle of Kings Mountain in the Revolutionary War.


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South Carolina: Chester County

Chester County (pop. 33,140) is west of Lancaster County. It’s one of three Chester counties in the U.S.; the others are in Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

The county seat is Chester (pop. 5,607), sometimes known as “The Little City on the Big Hill.”

Downtown Chester

The Chester County Courthouse was built in 1852.

On the National Register of Historic Places

The Chester City Hall was built in 1890. It formerly had an opera house on the third floor.

A 1929 fire destroyed the opera house.

The former Powell Theater (1937) is now the Chester Little Theater.

The town of Great Falls (pop. 1,979) hosts an annual Flopeye Fish Festival.

Richburg (pop. 332) was the hometown of Marty Marion (1916-2011), All-Star shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals and later manager of the Chicago White Sox.

The 1944 National League MVP


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South Carolina: Lancaster County

Lancaster County (pop. 79.089) is on the border with North Carolina. It’s one of four Lancaster counties in the U.S.

President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)  was born in Lancaster County; he is the only president born in South Carolina.

Andrew Jackson State Park

The county seat is Lancaster (pop. 10,160).

The Lancaster County Courthouse was in continuous use from 1828 until it was badly damaged in an arson fire in 2008.

Old courthouse (left) and new courthouse

The Haile Gold Mine, near the town of Kershaw (pop. 1,803), was one of the first operating gold mines in the U.S. Gold was first discovered there in 1827.


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South Carolina: Fairfield County

Fairfield County (pop. 23,956), east of Newberry County, was formerly a major cotton-farming area. It’s one of three Fairfield counties in the U.S. The others are in Ohio and Connecticut.

The county seat is Winnsboro (pop. 3,599). A folk song called “The Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues” was in the repertoire of singers such as Leadbelly and Pete Seeger.

Winnsboro cotton mill in the 1940s

The Fairfield County Courthouse (1823) was designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument.

The circular steps were added in 1939.

The Winnsboro Town Clock has been running continuously for more than 100 years.

The building dates from 1837.

The South Carolina Railroad Museum is in Winnsboro. It was established in 1973.

Train rides on Saturday

The town of Ridgeway (pop. 328) has “The World’s Smallest Police Station.” It opened in 1940 and closed in 1990.

Ten feet by twelve feet

Fairfield County was once known for its granite mining; Winnsboro blue granite was called “The Silk of the Trade.”

Mined from 1883 to 1946

Lake Wateree State Recreation Area is popular for fishing and camping.

Four miles north of Ridgeway


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South Carolina: Newberry County

Newberry County (pop. 37,508) is north of Saluda County. It is the only Newberry County in the U.S.

The county seat is Newberry (pop. 10,277).

The old 1852 Courthouse now hosts the Chamber of Commerce.

The Newberry Opera House (1881) is now a performing arts center.

The theater is on the second floor.

Newberry College, founded in 1856, has about 1,000 students.

Affiliated with the Lutheran Evangelical Church in America

The Wells Japanese Garden in Newberry dates from 1930.

Donated to the city in 1971

Newberry has a water tower shaped like an egg. The tower says, “Newberry County, Milk and Egg Capital.”

Dreher Island State Park occupies all of the largest island in Lake Murray.


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South Carolina: Saluda County

Saluda County (pop. 19,875) is northeast of Edgefield County. It’s the only Saluda County in the U.S.

It was named for the 200-mile Saluda River, which was named for an Indian tribe that lived along its banks. It is a tributary of the Congaree River – which joins the Santee River and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Santee River watershed

The county seat is Saluda (pop. 3,565).

Saluda County Courthouse

The Saluda Theater opened in 1936, closed as a movie theater in 1981, and is now the home of the Saluda Players.

On the National Register of Historic Places


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South Carolina: Edgefield County

Edgefield County (pop. 26,985) is northwest of Aiken County. It’s the only Edgefield County in the U.S.

The county seat is the city of Edgefield (pop. 4,750).

Edgefield County Courthouse

The National Wild Turkey Federation is headquartered in Edgefield.

More than 250,000 members around the world

Strom Thurmond (1902-2003), who served in the U.S. Senate for 48 years and retired at age 100, was born in Edgefield and is buried there.

Thurmond statue in downtown Edgefield

Much of the 1997 movie “That Darn Cat” was filmed in Edgefield.

Remake of the 1965 Hayley Mills movie

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a 1,700-prisoner, medium-security prison near Edgefield.

Edgefield County, adjacent to Georgia, is peach-growing country, and the town of Johnston (pop. 2,362) calls itself “The Peach Capital of the World.”

Johnston has an annual Peach Blossom Festival.


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South Carolina: Aiken County

Aiken County (pop. 160,099) is southwest of Lexington County. It’s the only Aiken County in the U.S. and is part of the Augusta (Georgia) Metropolitan Area.

The southern part of Aiken County is in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site.

The county seat is the city of Aiken (pop. 24,494).

Aiken County Courthouse

The University of South Carolina Aiken, established in 1961, has about 3,000 students.

Pickens-Salley House, USC Aiken

In the late 1800s, the Aiken Winter Colony was a winter gathering place for wealthy people from the Northeast.

Aiken is the home of the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum.

St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken was built in 1905.

The town of New Ellenton (pop. 2,052) was founded in the 1950s when the entire population of Ellenton was forcibly moved 14 miles as a result of the establishment of the Savannah River Site.

Singer James Brown (1933-2006) spent the final years of his life in Beech Island, across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia.


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South Carolina: Lexington County

Lexington County (pop. 262,391), west of Richland County, is officially part of the Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area. It’s the state’s sixth-largest county in population.

Lake Murray is a reservoir on the Saluda River that was formed by construction of Saluda Dam in 1930. The dam was the world’s largest earthen dam when it was built.

South Carolina Highway 6 goes over the dam, connecting the cities of Lexington and Irmo. The cities’ respective high schools play an annual football game called “The Battle of the Dam.”

The road is closed once a year for walkers.

Lexington (pop. 17,870) is the county seat.

The Peachtree Rock Historic Preserve is near the town of Gaston (pop. 1,645).

A sandstone formation like an upside-down pyramid


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