Aiken County Parks, Other Interesting Areas

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Various sign posts

      OTHER AREAS OF AIKEN COUNTY

Aiken State Natural Area Beech Island, Redcliffe Eureka
Jackson, Silver Bluff Midland Valley Monetta
Montmorenci New Ellenton Perry
Salley Wagener White Pond, Windsor


Aiken State Natural Area

1145 State Park Rd., Windsor, SC 803-649-2857. Four spring-fed lakes and the meandering South Edisto River make Aiken State Natural Area a popular destination. The park is a combination of a river swamp, bottomland hardwood forest and dry sandhill pine forest; the latter provides evidence of an era when the sea reached this far inland. Built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps, this 1,067-acre park has a variety of animal and plant life, making it an excellent location for nature study and birding. The park also offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities such as canoeing the Edisto River, fishing in one of the park lakes, picnicking, camping and hiking trails. Office Hours: 11am-noon, Park Hours Standard Time: M-Su 9am-6pm, Park Hours Daylight Savings: M-Su 9am-9pm There are 25 campsites available at $11 each per night.  Primitive group camping available.   Hard surface boat ramp accessing the South Fork of the Edisto River is located on SC 53. Visit Aiken State Natural Area online!

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Beech Island, Silver Bluff & Jackson

The area of Silver Bluff was named by Dr. Henry Woodward because of the glittering mica that once sparkled along the banks of the Savannah River.   Beech Island was named "Beech Highland" for the Beech trees on the high terrain.  The cockney English accent dropped the “H” sound, thus Highland became pronounced Island.   The area was once home to the 1685 settlement of Savanna Town, named for the Shawnee tribe, the Savanna Indians.   It was an extremely important Indian trading center and it was known as the “jumping-off” point to the western wilderness.   European goods arriving in Charleston, SC were sent to Savanna Town via the Westobou River, later known as the Savannah River.   Tribes as far away as Mississippi received goods from Savanna Town.   As years passed, conflict grew with Native Americans and Fort Moore was built in 1716 to protect mercantile interests and guard the western entrance of the colony.

In 1760, Irishman George Galphin settled upon a Cofachiqui Indian site, and built another trading post.   The post became Fort Gaphlin during the Revolutionary War.   The University of South Carolina is now excavating the site which is located on the National Audubon Society.   Galphin was instrumental in this community.   He was instrumental in Silver Bluff Baptist Church becoming an African American Church.   That contribution was an enormous gift to this nation, as it is now known as the birthplace of African American religion.   Today, the historic church is being restored to its original structure and will become an educational conference center as well as a continued place of worship.

In 1856, the Beech Island Agricultural Club was organized and is one of the oldest surviving societies in the state today.   Governor James Hammond was one of the organizers.   Hammonds’ home, Redcliffe Plantation.  It is now known as Redcliffe State historic Site and is open to the public from 9am-6pm on Thursdays through Monday. There are guided tours from noon till 3pm focusing on plantation life, architecture and family history. Also on the grounds are picnic areas and a hiking trail.

The town of Jackson was once known as Silverton.   With the advent of the Savannah River Site, the town moved to its present location and was chartered in 1951.   For more information, see www.beech-islandhistory.org

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Eureka

First known as Siegler's Crossing.   In 1910, Marie Sameulla Cromer began the Girls Tomato Club because girls were not allowed in the Boy's Corn Club.   The girls club started with 46 members and has grown into what we know today as The 4-H Club with over 25,000 members nationwide.

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Midland Valley

The area is also known as Horse Creek Valley.   It consist of many small villages: Vaucluse, Graniteville, Burnettown, Warrenville, Gloverville, Langley, Clearwater, Bath, Madison, Stiefeltown, Jacksonville and Lynwood.

In 1845, William Gregg founded the town the Graniteville Manufacturing Company, the south's first cotton mill.   It was built of blue granite from the local quarry and operates today as Avondale Mill.   The Graniteville Company holds the world record for the longest running employment of one person.   The employee worked for the mill for 89 years!   The Midland Valley Area has one of the south's first schools, Graniteville Academy, to distribute free textbooks to the students.  It was built in 1847.   The Graniteville Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest cemeterys in the state, circa 1855.

Down the road is Vaucluse, named by the French Hugenots meaning vale of flowers.   The Westos Indians camped and hunted these grounds for many years before the French settled here.

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Montmorenci

Visitors and locals tell tales of the ghost of a little girl calling her mama in the hall of a local Bed and Breakfast Inn.   It also served as a hideout for Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.

James Achille de Caradieux named the 500 acre tract where he built his home, Vale of Montmorenci.   Cyril Pascalis, a civil engineer, built his home at Johnson’s Turnout in 1832 which was used for the Union headquarters during the Civil Wars’ Battle of Aiken.   The area that once supplied the country with asparagus has an active winery today.

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Monetta

Monetta is located at the junction of an ancient Southern Cherokee path and the Occaneechi Trail.   Legend tells of an Indian Chief’s daughter, Monetta, as being buried in the center of town, where the old railroad depot stood.   Monetta is divided between Saluda and Aiken Counties.   During the 1920’s and 30’s, it was known as the asparagus center of the world.   Today, peach fields line the town on almost every side.

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New Ellenton

Once upon a time, a common sight in New Ellenton was a house, church or store on trailers traveling down the road.   In 1972, an annual reunion began in remembrance of the 6000 people whose city was moved in order to provide security for the nation.

New Ellenton has a unique and sentimental history.   The people of Ellenton learned in the early 1950’s that their town would be displaced by a massive nuclear weapons complex.   The U.S. Government bought 200,000 acres of land in Aiken and Barnwell Counties for $19 million, eventually building facilities to generate nuclear components for the hydrogen bomb.

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Perry

This small rural town was eventually named after Benjamin F. Perry by his friend John Martin Salley.   The two men met each other and John A. Wagener in Charleston, SC during the Civil War.   In 1888, the town was incorporated and named after Wagener.   Present day Wagener was "Guntersville."   After Guntersville received a charter, it adopted the name Wagener.   Much confusion arose with a Wagener 1 and a Wagener 2, especiall for the postal service. It all ended when, John M. Salley named the tow after his good friend, Perry.  Perry, a strong Unionist established one of the last Union newspapers in Greenville, SC.   He served as the provisional Governor for six months and was instrumental in bringing the railroad through Perry, along with his buddy, Wagener.

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Redcliffe State Park

181 Redcliff Rd. 827-1473.  Historic estate house, out buildings and grounds of the flamboyant Hammond family.   Built in 1859, the property was kept in the family for 120 years until it was donated to the state.   Grounds are open Thursday.-Monday, 9am-6pm House tours: Th.-Mon., 12pm- 4pm

Salley

Colonel Dempsey Hammond Salley donated land for the town of Salley, incorporated 1887.   It is known worldwide as the home of the Chitlin’ Strut, held each Saturday after Thanksgiving, featuring fried pork products called chitterlings.  The town boasts the first of a large chain of discount clothing stores for women across South Carolina, the Salley Factory Outlet.

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Wagener

Wagener was previously known as Pinder Town and later as Gunter’s Cross Roads, (Guntersville) after the large number of North Carolinian settlers named Gunter.   These men helped make up Company I of the 20th SC Infantry, which was part of Kershaw’s Brigade during the Civil War.
It was renamed after George Wagener, a cotton merchant who was active in bringing the railroad into the area. In the 1920’s and 30’s, asparagus was grown here and exported across America.   During the same period, cotton became a successful product and huge bales lined the streets awaiting departure via train.   The children of Wagener frolicked among the bales during their games of hide-n-seek.   A central town park is located where the railroad beds were.   Wagons To Wagener, an entertaining festival, is celebrated in April.

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White Pond, Windsor

White Pond is a small village outside Windsor and was named for the small white flowers that landed on the pond.   New Windsor consisited of 11 townships set up in South Carolina by Royal Governor Johnson in the 1730's.   It incorporated all of present day Aiken County.   Named after Windsor Castle, the town of Windsor was established in 1700's.

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