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“A” is for Aiken County

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“A” is for Aiken County (1,073 square miles; 2020 population: 168,808). Aiken County was created in 1871 from parts of Barnwell, Edgefield, Lexington, and Orangeburg Counties. It was named for William Aiken, first president of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company. Bounded on the west by the Savannah River, the county lies at the western end of the state’s Sandhills region, whose poor soils necessitated the development of alternatives to farming. In the 1840s William Gregg’s cotton mill at Graniteville was the first of a string of textile factories in the Horse Creek Valley. In the 1870s, wealthy northerners found Aiken County’s mild winters and sandy soil made it an ideal winter sports resort. After World War II, the construction of the Savannah River Plant brought thousands of newcomers and jobs to Aiken County.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.