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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South Carolina: Richland County

Richland County has the second-largest population in South Carolina, with 384,504 residents in the 2010 Census.

Its county seat is Columbia (pop. 129,272), South Carolina’s capital and largest city. The capital was moved from Charleston in 1790 because of Columbia’s central location.

South Carolina State House (1855)

The majority of South Carolina’s tallest buildings are in downtown Columbia.

The tallest is the 349-foot Capitol Center.

Edventure, which opened in downtown Columbia in 2003, bills itself as “The South’s Largest Children’s Museum.”

“The World’s Largest Kid”

The flagship campus of the University of South Carolina (1801) in Columbia has about 31,000 students.

South Caroliniana Library (1840)

The Columbia Marionette Theatre was founded in 1988.

Located near Riverfront Park

The World’s Largest Fire Hydrant (officially known as Busted Plug) was created by artist Blue Sky in 2001 in downtown Columbia.

It’s 40 feet tall.

Blue Sky’s famous “Tunnelvision” mural (1975) is on the side of a building in the same parking lot as Busted Plug.

Drunken drivers have tried to drive through it.

Fort Jackson, the U.S. Army’s largest basic-training post, is just east of Columbia.

Founded in 1917.

Congaree National Park, southeast of Columbia, preserves the largest remaining tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the U.S.

Established in 2003


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South Carolina: Kershaw County

Kershaw County (pop. 61,697), west of Chesterfield County, is the only Kershaw County in the U.S.

Camden (pop. 6,838), the county seat, is the oldest inland city in South Carolina. It was founded in 1786.

Former Kershaw County Courthouse (1827)

Starting in the 1880s, Camden was a popular winter destination for wealthy northern families; it developed a tradition of equestrian activities.

Today, Camden calls itself “The Steeplechase Capital of the World.” It hosts two major steeplechase events each year – the Carolina Cup and the Colonial Cup.

At Springdale Race Course

Amtrak’s “Silver Star” – running between New York City and Jacksonville – stops at Camden’s old Seaboard Air Line Railroad Depot (1937).

In the middle of the night

Larry Doby (1923-2003), the first African-American to play in the American League, was born in Camden.

He joined the Indians in 1947 – a few weeks after Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers.


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South Carolina: Chesterfield County

Chesterfield County (pop. 46,734) is west of Marlboro County and south of North Carolina.

It was named for British statesman Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773) – for whom Chesterfield County, Virginia, was also named.

The cigarettes were named for the Virginia county.

The county seat is the town of Chesterfield, the smallest county seat in South Carolina (pop. 1,472).

Downtown Chesterfield

The largest city in Chesterfield County is Cheraw (pop. 5,524), birthplace of jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993).

There’s a Gillespie statue in Cheraw.

The town of Patrick (pop. 354) hosts an annual rally racing event for cars and motorcycles called the Sandblast Rally.

The town of Pageland (pop. 2,521) was the hometown of Brooklyn Dodgers pitching great Van Lingle Mungo (1911-1985); he owned and operated a movie theater in Pageland after his retirement from baseball.

There’s a song called “Van Lingle Mungo.”

In the town of McBee (pop. 867), the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad depot (1914) is now the McBee Depot Library and Railroad Museum.

It closed as a rail depot in 1971.


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South Carolina: Marlboro County

Marlboro County (pop. 28,933) is northeast of Darlington County. It was named for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) and is the only Marlboro County in the U.S.

Although Marlboro County and the adjacent Chesterfield County have the same names as cigarette brands, neither has any connection to the tobacco industry.

Marlboro County is cotton country – not tobacco country.

Marlboro cigarettes were actually named for Marlborough Street in London, where Philip Morris had a cigarette factory.

Marlborough Street is on a London Monopoly board.

The county seat of Marlboro County is Bennettsville (pop. 9,425).

Marlboro County Courthouse (1884, renovated 1954)

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, was born in Bennettsville in 1939; actor-comedian Aziz Ansari grew up there.

Ansari in “Parks and Recreation”

The Bennettsville Opera House was built in 1917; it later became the Playhouse Theater and Carolina Theater, and is now the Marlboro Civic Center.

Renovated in 1995

The town of Blenheim (pop. 137) was named for Blenheim Palace, home of the Churchill family for 300 years.

One of England’s largest houses


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South Carolina: Darlington County

Darlington County (pop. 68,681) is northeast of Lee County. It’s the only Darlington County in the U.S.

Bruce Springsteen’s song “Darlington County” was on his “Born in the U.S.A.” album (1984).

Come on baby, take a seat on my fender

The county seat of Darlington County is the city of Darlington (pop. 6,289), home of the 75,000-seat Darlington Raceway.

NASCAR has the Southern 500 there every spring.

Darlington has hosted the annual South Carolina Sweet Potato Festival since 1983.

Hartsville (pop. 7,764) is the largest city in Darlington County.

Center Theater (1936)

Coker College, a private liberal arts college with about 1,200 students, is in Hartsville.

Memorial Hall, Coker College

The H.B. Robinson Nuclear Generating Station, near Hartsville, was the first commercial nuclear plant in the Southeast when it opened in 1971.

It was once the world’s largest.

Sonoco Products Company, a packaging company operating around the world, is headquartered in Hartsville.

Based on sales, South Carolina’s largest corporation


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South Carolina: Lee County

Lee County (pop 19,220), northeast of Sumter County, is one of 12 Lee counties in the U.S. – most of them in the Southeast.

The one in Illinois was named for Richard Henry Lee.

Interstate 20 runs through the middle of Lee County; the highway goes from Florence, S.C., west to Columbia, Atlanta, Birmingham, Shreveport, Dallas, and on to West Texas.

The county seat of Lee County is Bishopville (pop. 3,471).

Lee County Courthouse (1908)

Lee County is an historically important area for cotton-growing, and Bishopville is the home of the South Carolina Cotton Museum.

Established in 1993

Bishopville is also the home of the Button King Museum, featuring a wide variety of items (clothing, musical instruments, a car) with buttons attached to them.

For display purposes only

The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden is another attraction in Bishopville.

More than 300 individual plants

Lee State Park is just east of Bishopville.

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps

Football great Felix Anthony “Doc” Blanchard (1924-2009) grew up partly in Bishopville.

Heisman Trophy winner at West Point

The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp is reputed to live in Lee County.

Seven feet tall and scaly.


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South Carolina: Sumter County

Sumter County (pop. 107,456) is one of four Sumter counties in the U.S. – all in the Southeast and all named for Thomas Sumter (1734-1832), general in the South Carolina militia in the Revolutionary War.

His statue in front of the Courthouse

Much of the western part of the county is in the High Hills of Santee, a rural area where wealthy planters from the Low Country once built summer homes.

The two-story, Greek Revival mansion at Millford Plantation, near Pinewood (pop. 538), was built for John L. Manning (later South Carolina governor) in 1839-1841.

Some tours are given

Poinsett State Park is near the town of Wedgefield (pop. 1,615).

Rustic cabins are also available.

The county seat of Sumter County is the city of Sumter (pop. 40.254), in the geographic center of the state. It’s known as “The Gamecock City” – because Thomas Sumter’s nickname was “Gamecock.”

Sumter County Courthouse (1907)

Sumter’s Town Hall and Opera House, with its 100-foot tower, was built in 1895. It was a movie theater from 1936 to 1982; today, it serves as City Hall and as a performing arts center.

In the Richardsonian Romanesque style

Sumter is the birthplace (and still the home) of New York Yankees great Bobby Richardson.

He won five Gold Gloves, 1961-65.

Swan Lake-Iris Gardens in Sumter is reputed to be the only public park in the U.S. with eight species of swans.

It began in 1927.

Sumter is the home of the two-year University of South Carolina Sumter (1973) and the four-year Morris College (1908), a historically black college.

The town of Mayesville (pop. 731) was the birthplace of Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) – educator, civil rights leader, and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A founder of Bethune-Cookman University in Florida


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South Carolina: Calhoun County

Calhoun County is one of 11 Calhoun counties in the U.S. All of them are named for John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), senator from South Carolina and the seventh vice president of the U.S. (serving under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson).

A graduate of Yale

Calhoun County (pop. 15,175) is South Carolina’s smallest county in size and third smallest in population.

The county seat is St. Matthews (pop. 2,021), the second-smallest county seat in the state.

Calhoun County Courthouse (1913)

The Calhoun County Museum and Cultural Center opened in 1975.

Admission is free

Actress Viola Davis was born in St. Matthews in 1965.

Nominated for an Oscar for “The Help” (2011)

The unincorporated community of Sandy Run hosts the semiannual U.S. Marine Corps Mud Run.

“Blood Clots, Bones Heal, Sweat Dries . . . Pride is Forever”


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South Carolina: Barnwell County

Barnwell County (pop. 22,621), north of Allendale County, was named for South Carolina soldier and politician John Barnwell (1748-1800). It’s the only Barnwell County in the U.S.

A large part of Barnwell County is occupied by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, which was built in the 1950s to refine nuclear materials for nuclear weapons.

No trespassing, but there are occasional public tours.

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

Barnwell County Courthouse (1879)

Barnwell City Hall (1887) was originally the Bank of Barnwell.

It was renovated by the city in 2008-2009.

The former First Presbyterian Church (1848) in Barnwell is now the home of the Circle Theatre, a local community theater.

It became a theater in 1974.

Barnwell has a free-standing, vertical sundial in front of the courthouse; it’s been telling the time since 1858.

It may be the only one of its kind.

Barnwell State Park is on the outskirts of the town of Blackville (pop. 2,406).

A popular spot for fishing

Also near Blackville is God’s Acre Healing Springs, a natural spring with a tradition of healing power.


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South Carolina: Allendale County

Allendale County, west of Bamberg County and adjacent to Georgia, has a population of 10,419 – second smallest in South Carolina.

Allendale County was the last county established in South Carolina; it was created from pieces of Hampton and Barnwell counties.

Allendale County Courthouse (1922)

The county seat is Allendale (pop. 3,482), home of the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie. The university opened in 1965 and now has about 1,100 students.

Named for the nearby Salkehatchie River

Allendale’s former Carolina Theatre is now the college’s Civic Arts Center.

It was recently renovated.

Allendale’s population fell 21 percent between 1990 and 2010; one reason was the construction of Interstate 95 east of Allendale County, taking much north-south traffic away from U.S. Highway 301.

Several Highway 301 motels closed.


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South Carolina: Bamberg County

Bamberg County (pop. 15,987) is west of Orangeburg County. It is South Carolina’s third-smallest county in size and fourth-smallest county in population.

It’s the only Bamberg County in the U.S. and is named for Gen. Francis Marion Bamberg (1838-1905), an early community leader.

Not for the German city on the river Regnitz

The county seat is the city of Bamberg (pop. 3,607).

Bamberg County Courthouse (1950)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was born in Bamberg in 1972.

She attended Orangeburg Preparatory Schools before going to Clemson.

Bamberg County has communities named Denmark (pop. 3,538) and Sweden.

Denmark Amtrak station

Vorhees College is an historically black college in Denmark, affiliated with the Episcopal Church.

St. Philip’s Episcopal Chapel (1935)

Rivers Bridge State Historic Site, near the town of Ehrhardt, marks a Civil War site where Gen. Sherman engaged the Confederate Army.


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South Carolina: Orangeburg County

Orangeburg County (pop. 92,501), west of Clarendon County, contains much of the southern shore of Lake Marion.

It was named for William IV, Prince of Orange-Nassau, and is the only Orangeburg County in the U.S.

The Dutch son-in-law of King George II

Orangeburg County is an important agricultural area; its major products are cotton, soybeans, and corn.

Cotton is about one-third of the county’s planted acreage.

The county seat is the city of Orangeburg (pop. 13,964).

Downtown’s Blue Bird Theater (1941) hosts the Orangeburg Part-Time Players (OPTP).

Orangeburg is the home of two historically black universities: Claflin University (1869) and South Carolina State University (1896).

In 1968, Orangeburg was the site of an incident in which three young men were shot and killed by Highway Patrol officers; the men were demonstrating against segregation at the city’s only bowling alley, located near the South Carolina State campus.

Monique Coleman, one of the stars of Disney’s “High School Musical” movies, was born in Orangeburg in 1980.

She played the role of “Taylor.”

The town of Bowman (pop. 968) has the UFO Welcome Center – a homemade, 42-foot-wide flying saucer in the back yard of a resident.

The Grand American Coon Hunt is held every year at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds in Orangeburg.

The Super Bowl of Coon Hunt competitions


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South Carolina: Clarendon County

Clarendon County (pop. 34,971) was named for Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674), lord chancellor and advisor to King Charles II of England.

Grandfather of two English monarchs

Clarendon County is southwest of Florence County. South Carolina’s largest lake, Lake Marion, has most of its northern shore in the county.

Lake Marion was created by the construction of the eight-mile, earthen Santee Dam on the Santee River in 1941, providing hydroelectric power for rural electrification in the region.

Fishing is popular on “South Carolina’s Inland Sea.”

The 15,000-acre Santee National Wildlife Refuge, along Lake Marion, has forests, marshlands, and open water.

A major refuge for migratory birds

The heaviest 24-hour snowfall ever recorded in South Carolina was 24 inches on Feb. 10-11, 1973, in Rimini, Clarendon County.

The scene on U.S. Highway 301 in 1973

The county seat of Clarendon County is the city of Manning (pop. 4,108),

Clarendon County Courthouse (1909)

Peggy Parish (1927-1988), author of the Amelia Bedelia books for children, grew up in Manning. The name of Amelia’s “Uncle Alcolu” was taken from the name of a nearby town.

Tennis great Althea Gibson (1927-2003) was born in the Clarendon County community of Silver.

She first won her women’s singles at Wimbledon in 1957.


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South Carolina: Florence County

Florence County (pop. 136,885) is west of Marion County. The only other Florence County is in Wisconsin.

The county seat is the city of Florence (pop. 37,056). It’s the eastern terminus of Interstate 20 (going west to Texas) and is about halfway between New York City and Miami on Interstate 95.

653 miles to Miami, 624 miles to New York City

The central library for Florence County is the Doctors Bruce and Lee Foundation Library in Florence; it was built in 2004 for a cost of $13.5 million.

It has the largest children’s library in the state.

Francis Marion University is about six miles east of Florence. The public university has about 4,000 students.

Established in 1970

The city of Timmonsville (pop. 2,320), birthplace of auto racer Cale Yarborough, has a large Honda plant that produces all-terrain vehicles.

The plant’s 2.5-millionth ATV, in 2012

The city of Lake City (pop. 6,478) was the hometown of Ronald McNair, one of the seven astronauts who died on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

He had a Ph.D. in physics from MIT.

Mars Bluff, an unincorporated area east of Florence, was accidentally bombed with a nuclear weapon by a U.S. Air Force B-47  in 1958. About 7,600 pounds of conventional explosives exploded, destroying one home and creating a 30-foot-deep crater.

The fissionable uranium and plutonium were not in the Mark 6 bomb at the time.


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South Carolina: Marion County

Marion County (pop. 33,062) is south of Dillon County. It’s one of 17 Marion counties in the U.S. – most of them named for Francis Marion (1732-1795), a South Carolinian and hero of the Revolutionary War.

It’s shaped something like Laos.

Leslie Nielsen played the role of Gen. Marion in the 1959-61 Walt Disney TV series “The Swamp Fox.”

Years before “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun”

The county seat of Marion County is Marion (pop. 6,939).

Statue of Francis Marion

Marion has an annual Fox Trot Festival.

Marion High School Marching Band

The Marion County Courthouse was built in 1853.

Restored in 1970

The city of Mullins (pop. 4,663) is the home of the South Carolina Tobacco Museum.

It opened in 1998.


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South Carolina: Dillon County

Dillon County (pop. 32,062), northwest of Horry County, is best known for South of the Border, a roadside attraction located along Interstate 95 and U.S. Highway 301/501 just south of the border with North Carolina.

Often compared to Wall Drug in South Dakota

South of the Border has restaurants, shops (including fireworks for sale), gas stations, a motel, and a small amusement park.

The 165-foot Sombrero Tower

Dillon County was named for James M. Dillon (1826-1913), a prominent local citizen.

The county seat is the city of Dillon (pop. 6,788).

Dillon County Courthouse (1911)

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, grew up in Dillon. As a teen-ager, he waited tables at a South of the Border restaurant.

Valedictorian at Dillon High School

Amtrak’s “Palmetto” train from New York City to Savannah stops in Dillon.

The station was built in 1904.


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South Carolina: Horry County

Horry County is South Carolina’s second-largest county in size and fifth-largest county in population (269,291). It borders North Carolina on the northeast and the Atlantic Ocean on the southeast.

With its many miles of beaches, Horry County is a popular area for tourism and retirement; its population is about four times as large as it was in 1970 (69,992).

Surfside Beach

The county is named for Peter Horry (1743-1815), a Revolutionary War hero.

No other county is named for him.

This northeastern part of South Carolina is called the Pee Dee region, named for the Pee Dee Indians who lived in the area.

Pee Dee River watershed

The county seat of Horry County is Conway (pop. 16,317).

Conway City Hall (original county Courthouse, 1825)

TV personality Vanna White was born in Conway in 1957.

She’s been on “Wheel of Fortune” since 1982.

Conway has a Riverwalk along the Waccamaw River.

The 140-mile-long river starts in North Carolina.

Coastal Carolina University is in Conway. Founded in 1954, it has about 8,000 students.

Wall School of Business

Myrtle Beach (pop. 27,109) is the largest city in Horry County. It’s along the Grand Strand – a nearly uninterrupted stretch of 60 miles of South Carolina beach.

The Miniature Golf Capital of the World

Since 2010, Myrtle Beach has added a one-mile Boardwalk and the 187-foot-tall SkyWheel.

One of America’s tallest Ferris wheels


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South Carolina: Georgetown County

Georgetown County (pop. 60,158), east of Williamsburg County, is the only Georgetown County in the U.S. It was named for King George II of England.

The county seat is the city of Georgetown (pop. 9,163). In the 1840s, it was the largest rice-exporting port in the world.

Shrimp boats in Georgetown Harbor, Winyah Bay

Georgetown is the third-oldest city in South Carolina.

Downtown Georgetown

Hobcaw Barony, near Georgetown, has a 17,000-acre wildlife refuge and more than 40 historic buildings.

Winter home of presidential advisor Bernard Baruch

Mansfield Plantation is a former rice plantation in Georgetown, now open to visitors. It was established in 1718 along the Black River.

Parts of Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot” were filmed there.

Brookgreen Gardens, northeast of Georgetown, is a 9,000-acre wildlife preserve with several themed gardens. It was built on four former rice plantations.

It opened in 1932.


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South Carolina: Williamsburg County

Williamsburg County (pop. 34,423) is northeast of Berkeley County. It’s the only Williamsburg County in the U.S.

Williamsburg County and the city of Williamsburg, Va., were both named for King William III of England (William of Orange), who lived from 1650 to 1702.

Virginia’s College of William and Mary was named for William and his queen.

The county seat of Williamsburg County is Kingstree (pop. 3,328), originally called Williamsburg and later King’s Tree.

Williamsburg County Courthouse (1823)

A tall white pine tree was found in the area in the 1700s; King George I claimed the tallest white pines in the colonies for the Royal Navy.

Perfect for a ship’s mast

The 151-mile Black River flows through Kingstree; the dark water is the result of tannins from the swampy vegetation.

Black River near Kingstree

Amtrak’s “Palmetto” train stops daily in Kingstree, going north to Washington, D.C., and south to Savannah.

Built in 1909 for the Atlantic Coast Line

The town of Andrew (pop. 2,861) was the birthplace of comedian-actor Chris Rock (1965) and singer Chubby Checker (1941).

“The Twist” was a big hit in 1960.


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South Carolina: Berkeley County

Berkeley County (pop. 177,843) is South Carolina’s second-largest county in square miles. Parts of Charleston and North Charleston extend into Berkeley County.

Lake Moultrie, in Berkeley County, is South Carolina’s third-largest lake. It was created in the 1940s by the construction of Pinopolis Dam on the Cooper River.

The lake has alligators.

Berkeley County was named for John and William Berkeley, co-owners of the Province of Carolina.

The city in California was named for George Berkeley.

The county seat of Berkeley County is Moncks Corner (pop. 5,952). A major attraction in Moncks Corners is Cypress Gardens, a 170-acre preserve.

Boat tours are given on the former rice reservoir.

Goose Creek (pop. 35,938) is the largest city located entirely within Berkeley County. Naval Support Activity Charleston is in Goose Creek.

Formerly the Naval Weapons Station Charleston

The town of Jamestown (pop. 97) hosts the annual Hell Hole Swamp Festival. The winners of the 10K Gator Run receive alligator head trophies.

There’s also a Miss Hell Hole Swamp contest.


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South Carolina: Dorchester County

Dorchester County (pop. 136,555) is north of Charleston County.

It was named for Dorchester County, Massachusetts. Congregationalists from Massachusetts were the first settlers in the area in 1696.

Dorchester is now a neighborhood on the south side of Boston.

The county seat of Dorchester County is St. George (pop. 2,084), which hosts the World Grits Festival in April.

The “Rolling in Grits” Contest

Summerville (pop. 43,382) is the largest city in Dorchester County. Its annual Flowertown Festival is the largest arts and crafts festival in South Carolina.

The festival began in 1941.

Summerville is known as “The Flower Town in the Pines.” It was founded as a summer resort area for rice planters.

Parts of Summerville are in Berkeley and Charleston counties.

Middleton Place is a former rice plantation, across the Ashley River from North Charleston. It opened to the public in the 1920s.

The oldest landscaped garden in the U.S.

The plantation was the historic home of the Middleton family; Henry Middleton (1717-1784) was the first presiding officer of the Continental Congress.

The home was burned during the Civil War and later restored.


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South Carolina: Charleston County

Charleston County is along the Atlantic coast, east of Colleton County. It’s the largest county in South Carolina in square miles, and the third-largest in population (350,209).

The county seat is Charleston, the oldest (founded in 1670) and second largest (pop. 124,672) city in South Carolina.

It was originally Charles Towne, in honor of King Charles II

The tallest building in Charleston is St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, built in 1872.

255 feet tall

The city is on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers.

Charleston Harbor

The Civil War began in 1861 at Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor.

Now part of Fort Sumter National Monument

Stephen Colbert, host of TV’s “The Colbert Report,” grew up in Charleston.

Born in Washington, D.C., in 1964.

Charleston is the home of The Citadel (The Military College of South Carolina) and the College of Charleston.

One of six “senior military colleges” in the U.S.

The novel “Porgy” by DuBose Heyward (1925) and the opera “Porgy and Bess” (1935) were set in Charleston.

Music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Heyward

The adjacent city of North Charleston is North Carolina’s third-largest city, with a population of 101,356. It was the home of the Charleston Naval Shipyard.

Opened in 1901, closed in 1996

Sullivan’s Island, at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, was the point of entry for approximately 40 percent of the African slaves who came to British North America.

Folly Beach, on Folly Island, is a popular spot for surfing.

Folly Beach pier


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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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