"B" is for Barnwell County

Jan 12, 2021

"B" is for Barnwell County [548 square miles; population 23,478]. Barnwell County originally encompassed 1,440 square miles but lost more than one-half its territory to the formation of several newer counties: Aiken, Allendale, and Bamberg. The county was named for Revolutionary War hero, John Barnwell. Traditionally an agricultural county, Barnwell is better known today for the political clout it enjoyed for much of the 20th century.

The "Barnwell Ring," headed by Speaker of the House Solomon Blatt, President Pro-Tem of the Senate Edgar Brown, was one of the most powerful factions in the state’s history. In the early 1950s, the federal government purchased one-third of the western portion of the county for the Savannah River Site, a massive nuclear weapons facility—which had a profound effect on the economy and geography of Barnwell County.