Pickens, South Carolina

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Pickens, South Carolina
Nickname(s): Where The Mountains Begin
Location of Pickens, South Carolina
Location of Pickens, South Carolina
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Pickens
 • Total 2.5 sq mi (6.4 km2)
 • Land 2.5 sq mi (6.4 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 1,093 ft (333 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 3,012
 • Density 1,227.1/sq mi (473.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 29671
Area code(s) 864
FIPS code 45-56140[1]
GNIS feature ID 1250078[2]
Website www.cityofpickens.com

Pickens, formerly called Pickens Courthouse, is a city in Pickens County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 3,126 at the 2010 census. Pickens changed its classification from a town to a city in 1998, but it was not reported to the Census Bureau until 2001.[3] It is the county seat of Pickens County.[4] It was named after Andrew Pickens (1739–1817), an American revolutionary soldier and US Congressman for South Carolina.

Pickens is part of the GreenvilleMauldinEasley Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Pickens is located at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (34.881700, -82.707477).[5]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town had a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.4 km²), of which, 2.5 square miles (6.3 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.81%) is water. Pickens also has several small mountains that surround the city. Glassy Mountain,located east of Pickens is a small mountain that can be reached by several small private roads. Glassy Mountain is an excellent example of a piedmont modnadnock, which are rare in South Carolina. Sixty-five acres of the mountain are part of the South Carolina Heritage Trust, and contain varied and rare plant species.<SC DNR Heritage Trust> Perhaps one of the most famous mountains in the area is Table Rock State Park located just to the North of Pickens, but still in the Pickens area,it has been a remarkable symbol to Pickens and can be seen all throughout Pickens and nearby cities such as Easley and Greenville. In addition to Table Rock Mountain, the park contains Pinnacle Mountain, the highest mountain contained entirely within the state of South Carolina.[citation needed]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 212
1890 283 33.5%
1900 449 58.7%
1910 897 99.8%
1920 895 −0.2%
1930 1,130 26.3%
1940 1,637 44.9%
1950 1,961 19.8%
1960 2,198 12.1%
1970 2,954 34.4%
1980 3,199 8.3%
1990 3,042 −4.9%
2000 3,012 −1.0%
2010 3,126 3.8%
Est. 2014 3,149 [6] 0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 3,012 people, 1,281 households, and 794 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,227.1 people per square mile (474.7/km²). There were 1,438 housing units at an average density of 585.8 per square mile (226.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 80.54% White, 16.80% African American, 0.07% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 1.06% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.49% of the population.

There were 1,281 households out of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.88.

File:Downtown Pickens SC.jpg
Downtown Pickens, SC

In the town the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 21.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 82.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $26,364, and the median income for a family was $36,316. Males had a median income of $27,316 versus $19,706 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,436. About 12.7% of families and 20.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.5% of those under age 18 and 22.5% of those age 65 or over.

Historical Attractions

Located three miles north of downtown on US 178 is Hagood Mill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972. Constructed in 1845 the grist mill was operational until the 1960s. There are monthly southern heritage festivals at the site, and stone ground corn meal and grits may be purchased. <Pickens County SC Cultural Commission>. Of particular interest are petroglyphs discovered in 2003, estimated to be 1,500 to 2,000 years old and possibly from the Hopewell culture. <Anderson SC Independent Mail>. A museum is planned for the historically significant site.

Jocassee Gorges, located about 30 minutes northwest of town, was recently named by National Geographic as one of the 50 Most Beautiful Places in the World.

The Old Pickens Jail is one of the few remaining early jails in Piedmont South Carolina. It was constructed in 1903 and served as a detention facility and offices and living quarters for the county sheriff. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and now serves the community as a museum.


The School District of Pickens County is headquartered in Pickens. The city itself contains 5 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 1 high school.

  • Pickens Elementary
  • Hagood Elementary
  • A.R. Lewis Elementary
  • Holly Springs Elementary
  • Ambler Elementary
  • Pickens Middle
  • Pickens High

Notable people from Pickens

The most famous person from Pickens is Browning Bryant (January 24, 1957), who was a recording star in the late 1960s and early 1970s. On the strength of his record sales, he made numerous national TV appearances, including on Arthur Godfrey radio show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Mike Douglas Show (which he co-hosted for a week), The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, and The Kraft Music Hall; he also performed in Las Vegas and did concerts around the U.S. Bryant, who still lives in Pickens, continues to write and record music. He is the only progeny of Maude and Ray Bryant.

Former NFL player and Appalachian State graduate, Harold Alexander, is from Pickens. During Alexander's time at Appalachian State he set several NCAA punting records. Alexander was drafted 67th overall in the 1993 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. After playing two seasons with the Falcons, Alexander moved on to the Detroit Lions before ending his NFL career. Alexander currently lives in Pickens with his wife and children.

Pickens native Rudy Hayes was a standout football player in the 1950s at Pickens and played for Clemson University before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played three seasons. [8]

Bobby Baker, scandal-plagued Secretary to the Majority Leader of the Senate until 1963, was born and raised in Pickens.

Environmental Contamination

From 1955 until 1987 Sangamo Weston Inc. operated a capacitor manufacturing facility just outside the Town of Pickens. Until they were banned in the US, Sangamo discharged a significant amount of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the adjacent Town Creek, a tributary of the Twelve Mile River which feeds Lake Hartwell. Sangamo also dumped contaminated waste in six locations in the vicinity of Pickens. In two of these locations the waste was burned forming more dangerous dioxins. According to the Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal, contamination was discovered at the "Breazeale site", southwest of town.

"Test results in June showed PCB levels at the landfill about 500 times above EPA safety limits. The agency then decided to test for dioxins after they learned waste was burned perodically at the landfill. McPherson said dioxins can form from burning PCBs. Dioxins found in the two samples measured .31 parts per billion and 14 parts per billion. While the EPA has no safety standard for dioxins, the agency usually begins cleaning up sites at between 1 and 7 parts per billion, said EPA public affair officer Hagan Thompson. Gray Geddie, an attorney representing Sangamo, said that the company has fenced off the site and is conducting more sampling. But he said he couldn't explain why dioxins were present because the company never burned PCBs at the site." <Spartanburg Herald-Journal>

The Sangamo site, the six satellite locations, and the Twelve Mile River basin were listed as a Region 4 Superfund site by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Years after the dumping stopped, contamination was found in debris, ground water, sediment, sludge, soil, and fish tissue. The Sangamo site and satellite sites were cleaned up by removing contaminated soil and treating the ground water. Based on data collected in 1983 and 1986, the EPA determined that PCBs "presented no imminent or substantial0 public health threat in Pickens County". However, years of discharges impacted the Twelve Mile River as contaminated sediments collected behind three dams downstream, one of which was used a drinking water source for the unincorporated town of Cateechee. Residents there filed lawsuits against Sangamo and two other companies over alleged health affects from PCB exposure. Under an agreement reached in 1988 Cateechee residents received varying settlements. As of August 2013, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control maintains a fish consumption advisory for Lake Hartwell including: - No fish eaten from Twelve Mile River arm of lake - No fish eaten from Seneca River arm of lake - No hybrid bass or striped bass from ALL remaining waters - One meal per month of channel catfish and largemouth bass <SCDHEC website><US EPA NPL Narrative>

After being cleaned up, the original Sangamo site was donated to the City of Pickens, who then constructed a recreation complex on the donated land. <US EPA NPL Narrative>


  1. 1.0 1.1 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Population Estimates Boundary Changes, United States Census Bureau, 2007-07-01. Accessed 2008-11-06.
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. oldestlivingfootball.com

United States Environmental Protection Agency NPL Site Narrative for Sangamo Weston Inc/Twelve Mile Creek/Lake Hartwell PCB Contamination

Spartanburg Herald-Journal Aug.24, 1986 page 13 Anderson Independent Mail Pickens County Cultural Commission

External links