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Rich History

By Emily M. Grey
Media General News Service

If you are seeking an off-the-beaten-path driving destination, look no further than South Carolina ’s Old 96 and Olde English Districts. History, nature and the sporting life, graced with southern hospitality, define these colorful regions.

Peaceful rivers, forests and rolling pastures abound in state parks, wildlife refuges and old battlefields. Hunting, fishing and golf are offered at resorts and secluded spots.

More Revolutionary War battles were fought in South Carolina than any other state, and Confederacy was born there. Partly because of this, tourism is the state’s No. 1 industry. Both the Old 96 District and Olde English District offer many historical sites. Here are a few of them.

Old 96 District

Old 96 District lies between Interstates 85 and 20. It is bordered on the west by the Savannah River and framed by a series of lakes promoted as the “ Freshwater Coast .” The origin of the name is uncertain, but it appears to be related to the distance (96 miles) from the Cherokee village of Keowee to a historical outpost.

* The Town of Abbeville is known as the birthplace and deathbed of the Confederacy. The first meeting to adopt an ordinance of secession was held at the Burt-Stark House, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet were there when they agreed to ended the Civil War.

* The Wild Turkey Center and Winchester Museum is the headquarters of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The Winchester is the world’s only museum dedicated to the management, hunting and restoration of this game bird. The 100-acre Outdoor Education Area includes nature trails and a pavilion. There is also an observation platform, shooting range and wildlife food plots.

* Greenwood touts what it calls the world’s widest Main Street, over 300 feet across. Nearby, one can browse the beautiful test gardens and gift shops at Park Seed, the largest global mail-order seed company, which furnished tomato seeds that NASA sent into space to test the effects of weightlessness on germination and plant growth.

* McCormick lies atop 4 miles of tunnels that lead to gold mines. Built in 1890, nearby Prices Mill towers above a canoeing, biking and hiking trail along Stephen and Turkey Creeks. Hickory Knob State Resort Park provides golf, tennis, archery, skeet shooting, aquatic sports and modern cabins.

Olde English District

The Olde English District covers the area of early English settlements of the mid-1700s and the Revolutionary battles. It extends from Interstate 77 at Rock Hill , east along S.C. Highway 9 to Cheraw, down U.S. 1 to Camden , and across Interstate 20 toward Columbia .

* At Landsford Canal State Park, what is billed as the world’s largest known conglomeration of rare Rocky Shoal spider lilies bloom from mid-May through June. At the annual Lily Fest, canoeists paddle amongst the glowing white spectacle as bald eagles scout their fishing domain. A nature trail now runs along The Great Indian Warrior Trading Path, also called The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, the most heavily traveled road in Colonial America.

* Catawba Indians still live along the Catawba River and shape pottery like their ancestors did more than 4,500 years ago. The present-day Catawba Reservation and Cultural Center features exhibits, a craft store and cultural events with drummers, dancers and storytellers.

* Historic Brattonsville is one of the Southeast’s largest restoration and living-history sites. The 720-acre village and Revolutionary War battlefield chronicle the Carolina Piedmont from the 1750s through the 1840s. The Homestead , a majestic white mansion, was one location for the filming of The Patriot, the Revolutionary War-era film starring Mel Gibson.

* Andrew Jackson State Park’s focal point is an equestrian statue of our seventh president. A one-room schoolhouse replica, herb garden and orchard evoke the late 1700s.

* Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm, a newly opened bed and breakfast with antebellum Greek Revival architecture, is believed to be the oldest structure in Lancaster .

* The Town of Cheraw ‘s historic district showcases opulent antebellum, classical and Victorian dwellings. Native son Dizzy Gillespie played at theatre on the Green. Once a chancery court, telegraph office, and Confederate and Union quartermaster headquarters, the Lyceum now serves as a museum with Indian artifacts, steamboat and area relics.

* Camden is the site of Springdale Racecourse and National Steeplechase Museum . The celebrative Carolina Cup and Colonial Cup are held in March and November, respectively. The track also serves as a horse and jockey training center. Historic Camden Revolutionary War Park features a replica of a palisade wall constructed by British troops in 1780-‘81. Reconstructed in 1975, today’s posts are positioned in the original post holes.

* The town of Boykin , listed on the National Register of Historic Places, belongs to Alice Boykin. The town features a 400-acre, 19th century millpond teeming with alligators, herons and egrets. The Boykin Company Store is shelved with fresh farm produce, general merchandise and curiosities. Colorful mail-order brooms are still fashioned from 100-year-old equipment at the Broom Place . One of the country’s last stone-powered gristmills still grinds Boykin’s cornmeal to produce yellow grits.

During the mid-December Christmas Parade, Santa may arrive by hot air balloon, tractor or purple farm truck. Gospel and bluegrass musicians entertain as the Fatback Queen reigns at a pretend road-kill cook-off.

For More Information

Old 96 District Tourism
1041/2 Public Square
P.O. Box 448
Laurens , SC 29360
Ph: (864) 984 – 2233
Fx: (864) 984 – 0096

Olde English District
Tourism Commission
136 Main St .
P.O. Box 1440
Chester , SC 29706
Ph: (800) 728 – 1842
Fx: (803) 581 – 8977

Reprinted Courtesy of Media General :

Great Escapes – Rich in History: SC’s Olde 96 & Olde English Districts

* The News Herald ( Morganton , NC ), Sun. Oct. 26, 2003 , p. 8C.

* Highlands Today ( Highlands , Hardee, & DeSoto Counties , NC ), Sun. Oct. 19, 2003 , p. 4.

* Statesville Record & Landmark ( Statesville , NC ), Sun. Oct. 19, 2003 , p. 6D.

* Independent Tribune (Cabarrus Co., Concord , NC ) Oct. 16, 2003 , pgs. C8-C7.

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