Lancaster County, South Carolina, (population 65,000) was established by the state of South Carolina in 1785. It is located in north-central South Carolina, 40 miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina, and 50 miles north of Columbia, South Carolina. Before European settlement, the area was home to the Catawba Indians. The first white settlers, who came in the 1750s, were primarily Scotch Irish from Pennsylvania. The county name refers to the English House of Lancaster, which opposed the House of York in the 1455-1485 Wars of the Roses. The House of Lancaster chose the red rose as its emblem, and Lancaster County adopted this same emblem. Lancaster County was the site of Revolutionary and Civil War battles, and is the birthplace of President Andrew Jackson. The city of Lancaster, the county seat, is one of three incorporated communities in Lancaster County, the other two are the towns of Heath Springs and Kershaw.
Lancaster County’s original economy was based on agriculture, primarily corn and cotton. When manufacturing came to the county, it was in the form of cotton goods production. The Springs Cotton Mills opened in 1887 and remained the largest industry in the county for many years. Now known as Springs Global, the company is home to brands Wamsutta and Springmaid and still maintains a business presence in Lancaster County.
A countywide economic development group called See Lancaster was initiated in 2005. The group branched off from the city of Lancaster Main Street Program, and uses Main Street principles on a county level to promote the county for visitors and locals alike. See Lancaster provides information to individuals and businesses looking to relocate to Lancaster County, promotes local businesses, plans events, and helps to preserve historic sites. One of the group’s events was the Santa Express. Held the first weekend in December in partnership with the Lancaster and Chester Railway, families could take a ride in restored luxury railcars from the city of Lancaster to Heath Springs. Once in Heath Springs, visitors met Santa and Mrs. Claus, purchased local crafts, and played in man-made snow before returning to Lancaster. The event was successful, with more than 600 participants on six rides.
Lancaster County is also a part of the Olde English District, a South Carolina regional tourism group. Located between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina, the district consists of seven counties including Lancaster. Visitors to the Olde English District Web site can view travel packages, look up events, and find information on lodging, shopping, dining, recreation, and attractions within the district.
The city of Lancaster has a self-guided walking tour of its historic downtown, and members of the Lancaster Historical Society and Lancaster Historical Commission take visitors on guided tours that include the county courthouse and the old county jail, designed by noted American architect Robert Mills. Lancaster’s downtown became a National Historic District in 1984.
Visitors interested in presidential history can visit Andrew Jackson State Park. The park features a museum that details the boyhood of the nation’s seventh president, as well as a replica of a late 18th-century one-room schoolhouse, and a variety of recreational opportunities.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2008.