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Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, skirted by lakes and rivers, Anderson County lies along the South Carolina Heritage Corridor in the state's northwestern corner. Positioned between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina on what was once Cherokee hunting ground, Anderson is studded with landmarks from its past. From pioneer log cabins to stately mansions, the area holds treasures for those wishing to explore its history. The county seat, Anderson, was heralded as the "City of Hospitality" for its gracious air and beautiful gardens. During the industrial revolution it was reborn as the "Electric City" for its pioneering use of hydroelectric power.

Today Anderson residents combine the strengths of a shared heritage with a positive vision as they plan for their future. This unique civic spirit has earned national recognition, as Anderson was named "All-America City" in 2000 by the National Civic League. The country's smaller towns, spread around the rolling countryside, each bear a unique character and history. Together, they make Anderson County what it is: a beautiful haven for visitors and a source of pride for those who call it home.

In the mid-1700's, General Robert Anderson, with General Andrew Pickens, explored the Cherokee land that was to become Anderson. Settled by pioneering small farmers of Scots-Irish and English descent, the area's agrarian economy did not include slaves. It was the spirit of innovation and self-reliance that prepared its residents for the manufacturing boom in the 19th century. When Anderson sparked the Industrial Revolution in the South with the first long-distance transmission of hydroelectric power, it was dubbed the "Electric City". The county boasts the state's oldest cotton mill in operation, Pendleton Factory (now La France Industries), built in 1838.

History buffs can begin their exploration at Hunter's Store in the 1790 village of Pendleton - the seat of government for the old Pendleton District, from which Anderson was created in 1826. The entire town of Pendleton is on the National Register of Historic Places and comprises one of the largest historic districts in the nation. Many wealthy coastal families had summer homes in the area. Graves of Revolutionary War heroes, statesmen, and important citizens can be found in surrounding cemeteries.

Anderson's downtown Historic District comprises a 16-block walking tour that includes the Anderson County Courthouse, the Sullivan Building, the P&N Railroad Depot, the Confederate Monument on the square, the Anderson County Museum, the Anderson County Library, the Old Reformer (1764 Revolutionary War Cannon), and the Anderson County Arts Center (once the Carnegie Library).

Each Anderson town has its distinct personality, but all share an up-close and personal small-town flavor. The county's municipalities include:

Belton (population 4,463) - Long before Belton was chartered, it was an important stop on the wagon trail from the mountains to Hamburg, Georgia. The town was named Belton in honor of Judge Belton O'Neal who was instrumental in the construction of the Greenville-Columbia railroad and was its first president. The castle-like tower that rises above the town of Belton - the standpipe for water storage - has become a familiar landmark and its image is used as Belton's logo in the town seal. Belton is now the home to the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame and holds the annual Standpipe Festival.

Honea Path (population 3,504) - The smallest town in the U.S. to have a Carnegie Library, Honea Path crests the ridge between the Savannah and Saluda Rivers. The name of this town has been under dispute for centuries, spawning a number of legends. Some believe it is the result of misspelling "Honey Path", while others believe that Cherokees named it after a great trail.

Iva (population 1,274) - Originally known as Cook's Station, Iva was a shipping station for Seaboard Railroad, and was named after Dr. Augustus Cook. The town name was later changed to Iva, the daughter of Dr. Cook, after it was discovered there was another Cook's Station in S.C. Iva's town square, with its gazebo and well monument, has been renovated to reflect the town's history.

Pelzer (population 851) - Pelzer was named for Francis Pelzer, who was one of the founders of the Pelzer Manufacturing Company that was built in 1881. The first electric generations ever made by General Electric Company were used in Pelzer.

Pendleton (population 2,966) - Pendleton was named for Judge Henry Pendleton, a Virginian who came to live in S.C., and made a name for himself as a jurist, a soldier and a legislator. Stately trees, old churches and cemeteries, antebellum homes, and quaint little shops characterize this charming historic town, still centered around the original village green. Pendleton is the host of the annual Spring Jubilee and Old Farm Days.

Starr (population 173) - Twiggs was the original name of this small town 10 miles south of Anderson until the Savannah Valley railroad was completed in 1884. That was when the name changed to Starr Station in honor of the first popular railway engineer by that name. For almost a century, the surrounding area was largely dominated by now disappearing cotton farms.

West Pelzer (population 879) - Separated from Pelzer only by railroad tracks, West Pelzer was chartered as Frankville in 1913, named after John Franks who made the original town survey. In 1918, the town name was changed to West Pelzer because of its location. Part of the town is still laid out as designed in the original street plan by John Franks.

Williamston (population 3,791) - Williamston was named for West Allen Williams, who discovered a natural mineral spring on his property. The town grew up around this "miracle" mineral spring, whose water was believed to have healing properties and made the town a popular health resort in the early 1800's. The site where the mineral spring still exists is now Williamston Park, where the town celebrates the annual Spring Water Festival and the Williamston Christmas Park.

Anderson's horizon for exploration is promising in all directions. The majestic Blue Ridge Mountains are an easy day trip for hiking, biking or climbing. Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia are each only two hours away, while South Carolina's coastal towns and beaches are three to four hours travel. Lake Hartwell, Lake Jocassee, Lake Keowee, Lake Russell, and J. Strom Thurmond Lake - collectively known as South Carolina's "freshwater coast" - comprise 3,000 miles of shoreline and provide year-round recreation: swimming, sailing, boating, canoeing, water-skiing, fishing or just picnicking along the shore. Largemouth and hybrid bass, rainbow trout, bream, catfish, crappie and walleye all live in their waters. In Anderson's backyard, birdwatchers can find yellow warbler, swamp sparrow, wood duck, and waterfowl in their habitat at Beaver Dam Wildlife Management Area.

In addition, the Anderson area offers camping, picnicking, swimming, and other outdoor activities at several State Parks such as: Devils Fork State Park at Lake Jocassee; Lake Hartwell State Park; Keowee-Toxaway State Park at Lake Keowee; Sadlers Creek State Park at Lake Hartwell; Oconee State Park; and Table Rock State Park.

Horse shows, livestock sales, and equestrian events are held at the T. Ed Garrison Arena, a $4.4 million, 100-acre complex just off Highway 76. Boasting both indoor and outdoor arenas, this facility is the largest of its kind in the Southeast. Rodeos are also hosted at the Anderson Civic Center. A number of riding farms and academies in the area provide further options for equestrians and horse fans. NASCAR fans can catch races at Anderson speedway. And for golfers, the Upstate boasts 125 golf courses, 12 of them in Anderson County. A prized local attraction, the South Carolina Botanical Garden, contains 270 acres of nature trails, flower gardens, organic sculptures, outdoor classrooms, and historical sites. Next door, explore the Fran Hansen Discovery Center, a showcase of Heritage Corridor treasures, and the Bob Campbell Geology Museum, featuring one of the Southeast's largest collections of gems and minerals plus rotating natural history exhibits.

When a community works together, it works. Anderson's people - its most important resource - are good-spirited and down-to-earth. It is this spirit for which Anderson has been recognized as an All-America City for the year 2000. The National civic League bestows this prestigious honor on communities that have found the most innovative solutions to problems through grass-roots bridges between public, business, nonprofit organizations and citizens at large. Anderson's solutions included a beautiful new main library, large YMCA complex, and a community health initiative which offers free prescription medicines and health care to those unable to pay. Community dreams have been realized with the impressive new sports and entertainment complex and the KidVenture playground, which was designed and built as a labor of love by children, parents and friends.

Anderson's Downtown Revitalization project is a dynamic example of breathing new life into old landmarks: charming shops, restaurants, and galleries line the historic heart of town. Here the old and the new intermingle. From sticky down-home barbeque to lathered cappuccino, from sweet antique memorabilia to cutting-edge artwork, the tree-lined streets of downtown Anderson bring the best moments of its memories together with innovative flair. In Anderson, we love to put old things to new use, to remember as we rejuvenate.

Anderson offers clubs for many personal interests including ballet, barbershop quartet, bridge, birdwatching, cycling, folk dancing, gardening, genealogy hiking/backpacking, horseback riding, quilting, reading, running, sailing, square dancing, stamp collecting, and writing.

Anderson's institutions are filled with an enthusiastic spirit and collective vision. Literally hundreds of clubs, organizations, volunteer groups and societies provide a community niche for all kinds of interests and initiatives. Anderson County is home to over 260 places of worship, covering a broad range of religious sects and denominations. Anderson and all its inhabitants continue to grow and improve together in positive directions.

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