“A” is for Aiken
“A” is for Aiken (Aiken County; 2020 Population 31,041). Incorporated in 1835 and named for railroad president William Aiken, Sr., Aiken owes its existence to the South Carolina Railroad, its personality to its erstwhile “winter colony” of wealthy northern sports enthusiasts, and its economic vitality and relatively cosmopolitan spirit to the U.S. government’s massive Savannah River Site nuclear weapons facility. In the 1890s the arrival of wealthy northerners led to a growing colony of visitors whose lives centered around horses and golf. Little changed in Aiken until the 1950s when the cold war spawned the Savannah River Plant. The quiet town of some seven thousand grew to over forty thousand well-educated transplants. However, Aiken managed to preserve much of its charm, retaining unpaved streets in the “horsy” section and taking pride in its heritage.