Aiken County, known throughout the world for its equestrian training facilities, is home to the Aiken Training Track. Since 1942, this facility has produced forty National Champions, six Kentucky Derby winners, three Preakness Stakes winners and nine Belmont Stakes winners. Palace Malice, 2013 Belmont Stakes winner; Demonstrative, 2014 Eclipse Award Champion Steeplechase Horse; Pleasant Colony, 1981 Eclipse Award Champion 3 Year Old Male; and Concrete Rose, 2019 Aiken Trained Horse of the Year are just few of the famous horses that have called Aiken County home.
The legend of God’s Acre Healing Springs near Blackville dates back to the Revolutionary War when Native Americans used its waters to heal wounded British soldiers. The acre of land surrounding the springs was legally deeded to God by its owner in 1944.
In the early 1900’s, North Augusta was in competition with Hollywood, California to become the new home of the movie industry. Fearing that the industry would cheapen their resort community, local developers allowed the industry to choose Hollywood.
Formed in 1919, Allendale is the youngest county in South Carolina. Allendale roots are in agriculture producing peanuts, corn, okra, watermelon, cotton and other crops.
Kayak or canoe the Edisto River, the longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America. Flowing over 200 miles, it is the longest and largest river system completely contained by the borders of South Carolina.
In Aiken, Hopelands Gardens is a 14-acre estate wrapped behind a serpentine brick wall and under a canopy of ancient oaks, deodar cedars and magnolias. Bequeathed to the City of Aiken by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, Hopelands Gardens opened in 1969 as a public garden.
Bordering Thoroughbred Country, the Savannah River provides a natural setting for panfish, redbreast, bream, catfish, warmouth, yellow perch and largemouth bass. Striped bass can be found in the spring.
The Town of Salley is known as the “Chitlin’ Capital” of the world. To celebrate, the town hosts the Chitlin’ Strut every fall.
Bamberg County claims the late artist Jim Harrison and former Governor Nikki Haley.
The Aiken County Historical Museum houses a safe from the 1850’s that was found in an interior wall of the White House during a 1950 renovation. The safe weighs 99 pounds.
Barnwell is home to what is believed to be the only vertical sundial in the United States. Although erected prior to standard time, the sundial keeps within two minutes of that.
Hitchcock Woods, located in Aiken County, is one of the largest urban forests in the United States. Spanning 2,100 acres, the Hitchcock Woods boasts 70 miles of sandy trails which are free and open to the public for both equestrian and foot traffic. Hitchcock Woods is home to the 2019 national champion longleaf pine.
On his march to Columbia, Sherman’s Army was met at Bamberg County’s Rivers Bridge by a small band of Confederate soldiers who tried to stall his progress. See the scars of this encounter at the Battle of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site.
Bamberg County’s Mizpah Methodist Church was built in 1856 and was the only building left when Sherman completed his march through the area.
The Monetta Drive-In opened in 1951 and provided decades of entertainment before closing in 1986. The theater reopened in 1999, reviving a unique tradition and an almost lost pastime. Now, the theater is one of three operating drive-in theaters in South Carolina.
William Aiken, the first president of South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company and the City of Aiken’s namesake, commissioned the Charleston–Hamburg Railway which was the longest commercial railway in world at the time.
The AT&T Building in Denmark was a significant participant in the first historic transcontinental telephone call, made January 15, 1915. The building now houses The Caroline Collection.
Polo has been played in Aiken for well over a century and matches are still held today at several fields. Whitney Polo Field has the distinction of having the longest continuous period of play of any field in the country.
Silver Bluff Baptist Church, located in Beech Island, is regarded as the oldest African-American Baptist church in America.
Matilda Arabelle Evans, MD was born in Aiken County. Evans was the first African-American woman to be licensed as a physician in South Carolina.
The wonderful climate and natural beauty of Thoroughbred Country attracted Mennonites from western states. Experience their culture and cooking in Aiken, Bamberg and Barnwell County.
In 1900, The Willcox, located in Aiken, opened for those seeking warmth and a high society atmosphere during the winter. During that time, Aiken was such a popular destination for many northern travelers, that the town soon became known as the “Winter Colony”. Since then, The Willcox has received much recognition and is considered one of the best hotels in the world.
The library of USC Salkehatchie holds the first permanent display of artifacts from the Topper Site which is one of few places where evidence has been found that people lived in America more than 15,000 years ago.
Woodlands in Bamberg was home to South Carolina’s most notable author, William Gilmore Simms who wrote The History of South Carolina in 1841.
Encompassing areas of Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties, the Savannah River Site maintains an infrastructure similar to a small city. The “City” of SRS includes its own fire department, emergency services, medical facilities, weather center and 230 miles of roads including South Carolinas first cloverleaf.