Pickens County, South Carolina

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Pickens County, South Carolina
Pickens County Courthouse, Pickens (Pickens County, South Carolina).JPG
Pickens County Courthouse
Map of South Carolina highlighting Pickens County
Location in the state of South Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting South Carolina
South Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1868
Named for Andrew Pickens
Seat Pickens
Largest city Clemson
 • Total 512 sq mi (1,326 km2)
 • Land 497 sq mi (1,287 km2)
 • Water 15 sq mi (39 km2), 2.92%
 • (2010) 119,224
 • Density 240/sq mi (92.6/km²)
Congressional district 3rd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.co.pickens.sc.us

Pickens County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, its population was 119,224.[1] Its county seat is Pickens.[2]

It is part of the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Pickens County was Cherokee Indian Territory until the American Revolution. The Cherokees sided with the British, suffered defeat, and surrendered their South Carolina lands. This former Cherokee territory was included in the Ninety-Six Judicial District. In 1791 the state legislature established Washington District, a judicial area composed of present-day Greenville, Anderson, Pickens, and Oconee counties, and then composed of Greenville and Pendleton counties. Streets for the courthouse town of Pickensville (near present-day Easley) were laid off, and soon a cluster of buildings arose that perhaps included a large wooden hotel, which served as a stagecoach stop. In 1798 Washington District was divided into Greenville and Pendleton districts. The latter included what eventually became Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties. A new courthouse was erected at Pendleton to accommodate the Court of General Sessions and Common Pleas, and soon thereafter Pickensville began to decline.

In view of the growing population and poor transportation facilities in Pendleton District, the legislature divided it into counties in 1826, and a year later decided instead to divide the area into districts. The legislation went into effect in 1828. The lower part became Anderson and the upper Pickens, named in honor of the Revolutionary soldier, Brigadier General Andrew Pickens, whose home Hopewell was on the southern border of the district. A courthouse was established on the west bank of the Keowee River, and a small town called Pickens Court House soon developed

By 1860 Pickens District had a population of over 19,000 persons of whom 22 percent were slaves. The district was largely rural and agricultural. Its small industry consisted mainly of sawmills, gristmills, and a few other shops producing goods for home consumption. The district's Protestant churches were numerous, but schools were few. The Blue Ridge Railroad reached the district in September of 1860. There was little combat between the two sides during the Civil War the district was frequently plundered by marauders and deserters who swept down from the mountains.

The war left the region largely destitute. The South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1868, meeting during the first year of Congressional Reconstruction, changed the name district to county throughout the state. The Convention also established Oconee County out of the portion of Pickens District west of the Keowee and Seneca rivers plus a small area around the Fort Hill estate that formerly belonged to John C. Calhoun. This small area around the Calhoun property was transferred to Pickens County in the 1960s.

A new courthouse for Pickens County was erected at its present location, and many of the residents of Old Pickens on the Keowee moved to the newly created town, some with their dismantled homes. The loss of the Oconee area greatly reduced the county's population. It did not again reach 19,000 until 1900.

The county's growth was accelerated by the building of the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad (later called the Southern Railway) in the 1870s. The town of Easley, named for General W. K. Easley, was chartered in 1874. Liberty and Central sprang up along the railroad about the same time and were soon incorporated. Calhoun (now part of Clemson) came into being in the 1890s, to be followed in the early 1900s by Six Mile and Norris as incorporated areas.

A major factor in Pickens County's growth was the coming of the textile industry. The county's first modern cotton mill, organized by D. K. Norris and others, was established at Cateechee in 1895. By 1900 the county could boast of three cotton mills, two railroads, three banks, three roller mills, thirty-seven sawmills, ten shingle mills, and four brickyards.

Yet until 1940, with a population of 37,000 (13.2 percent black), the county remained primarily rural and agricultural. Like many other Piedmont counties, Pickens had a one-crop economy. Its citizens were engaged mainly in growing cotton or manufacturing it into cloth. A notable change in the Pickens landscape was the coming of paved highways; one completed across the county, about 1930, ran from Greenville to Walhalla by way of Easley, Liberty, and Central.

The most significant developments in the county's history have occurred since World War II. By 1972 there were 99 manufacturing plants in the county employing almost 15,000 personnel and producing not only textiles but a wide variety of other products. The population today is estimated to be 93,894 residents. There is a heavy in-migration to Pickens County because of its climate, industrial opportunity, proximity to Greenville's labor market, and scenic beauty.[3]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 512 square miles (1,326 km²), of which 497 square miles (1,287 km²) is land and 15 square miles (39 km²) (2.92%) is water.[4] The county also contains the highest natural point in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain, with an elevation of 3560 feet (1085 m).[5] Table Rock State Park (South Carolina) is in Pickens County.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major highways[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 14,473
1840 14,356 −0.8%
1850 16,904 17.7%
1860 19,639 16.2%
1870 10,269 −47.7%
1880 14,389 40.1%
1890 16,389 13.9%
1900 19,375 18.2%
1910 25,422 31.2%
1920 28,329 11.4%
1930 33,709 19.0%
1940 37,111 10.1%
1950 40,058 7.9%
1960 46,030 14.9%
1970 58,956 28.1%
1980 79,292 34.5%
1990 93,894 18.4%
2000 110,757 18.0%
2010 119,224 7.6%
Est. 2012 119,670 0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
2012 Estimate[1]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 110,757 people, 41,306 households, and 28,459 families residing in the county. The population density was 223 people per square mile (86/km²). There were 46,000 housing units at an average density of 93 per square mile (36/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 90.27% White, 6.82% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 1.18% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.70% from other races, and 0.85% from two or more races. 1.70% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 27.9% were of American, 11.8% English, 11.6% Irish, 10.3% German and 5.0% Scotch-Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 41,306 households out of which 31.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.60% were married couples living together, 9.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.10% were non-families. 23.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.30% under the age of 18, 17.50% from 18 to 24, 27.60% from 25 to 44, 21.20% from 45 to 64, and 11.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 99.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,214, and the median income for a family was $44,507. Males had a median income of $31,795 versus $22,600 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,434. About 7.80% of families and 13.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.20% of those under age 18 and 11.70% of those age 65 or over.


Elementary and secondary education[edit]

Pickens School District ranked the highest in the state with an "A-" transparency score from Sunshine Review.[8]


  • Forest Acres Elementary-Easley
  • Crosswell Elementary-Easley
  • West End Elementary-Easley
  • East End Elementary-Easley
  • McKissick Elementary-Easley
  • Pickens Elementary-Pickens
  • Hagood Elementary-Pickens
  • Ambler Elementary-Pickens
  • A.R. Lewis Elementary-Pickens
  • Holly Springs Elementary-Pickens
  • Clemson Elementary-Clemson
  • Liberty Elementary-Liberty
  • Chastain Road Elementary-Liberty
  • Central Elementary-Central
  • Dacusville Elementary-Dacusville
  • Six Mile Elementary-Six Mile
  • R.H. Gettys Middle-Easley
  • Pickens Middle-Pickens
  • R.C. Edwards Middle-Six Mile
  • Liberty Middle-Liberty
  • Dacusville Middle-Dacusville
  • Easley High-Easley
  • Pickens High-Pickens
  • D.W. Daniel High-Central
  • Liberty High-Liberty

Colleges and universities[edit]

Public library[edit]

Pickens County is served by the Pickens County Library System, headquartered in Easley, with four branch libraries in the county.

Public Safety[edit]


Pickens County is served by the Pickens County Sheriff's Office. The elected Sheriff is currently Sheriff Rick Clark, who replaced former Sheriff C. David Stone in early 2012. Most communities in the county also have their own police departments.

  • Easley Police Department

Chief of Police: William D. Traber

  • Historic Pickens Police Department

Chief of Police: Rodney Gregory

  • Clemson Police Department

Chief of Police: Jimmy Dixon

  • Liberty Police Department

Chief of Police: Leland "Corky" Miller

  • Central Police Department

Chief of Police: Khristy Justice

The Sheriff's Office has primary jurisdiction in all unincorporated communities in the county and communities without a police department.

Fire Safety[edit]

There is no countywide fire department, but several communities in the county do maintain their own fire departments.

  • Easley Fire Department
  • Liberty Fire Department
  • Pickens Fire Department
  • Central Fire Department
  • Clemson University Fire Department
  • Dacusville Rural Fire Department
  • Central Rural Fire Department
  • Crosswell Fire Department
  • Six Mile Fire Department
  • Norris Fire Department


Notable people[edit]

Shoeless Joe Jackson

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°53′N 82°43′W / 34.89°N 82.72°W / 34.89; -82.72