Oconee marks the beginning of the rising landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains. From the Native American word meaning “land beside the water,” Oconee has some of the most outstanding natural resources in the country. Lakes, river rapids, and waterfalls are must-do activities here along with exploring the deep history.
Designated Heritage Corridor Sites in Oconee County
Founded in 1805 by General Andrew Pickens and Rev. Andrew Brown, Bethel Presbyterian is the oldest church in continuous use in Oconee County. The current house of worship was built in 1846 by Henry Steele and restored in 2002, exposing the hand-hewed beams in the ceiling. The church has recently published its history, which is 288 pages and includes the church registry from 1855-2012 and select family genealogies and photographs. The cemetery dates to the founding of the church.
DEVILS FORK STATE PARK
Devils Fork State Park provides the only public access to Lake Jocassee, a largely undeveloped 7,500-acre reservoir tucked deep in the Cherokee Foothills. The park is popular for fishing, scuba diving, kayaking among the waterfalls. Camping and villas available.
WESTMINSTER TRAIN DEPOT
Built in 1911, this local landmark serves as a visitors center and the headquarters for the Westminster Chamber of Commerce. The depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Isaqueena Falls & Stumphouse Tunnel
The 1600-foot-long Stumphouse Tunnel was started in 1852 but the Civil War—and a lack of funds—brought construction to a halt. Today it is a reminder of what never was and a monument to pre-Civil War engineering. Not far from the “tunnel to nowhere” is Isaqueena Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the State.
ANDREW PICKENS RANGER STATION
Andrew Pickens Ranger Station: Named after Revolutionary War hero General Andrew Pickens, the Ranger Station is the gateway to the Andrew Pickens District, a 79,000 acre area that is home to the wild and scenic Chattooga River, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Sumter National Forest. The station offers a small interpretive center, gift shop and maps that lead you to any outdoor recreational activity that you can think of including hiking, horseback riding, waterfall seeking, fishing and primitive camping.
BLUE RIDGE ARTS CENTER
The Blue Ridge Arts Center is housed in Seneca’s oldest remaining religious facility, the former Episcopal Church that was built in 1882. Today the arts center features annual art shows, permanent art exhibits and a reference library related to the arts.
BLUE RIDGE FIELD HERITAGE PARK
Once the site of the segregated African-American Blue Ridge High School football field, Blue Ridge Field today memorializes the rich history of African-American education from the 1800’s to 1969. Blue Ridge High School was an all- African-American facility in Seneca prior to integration. The football field, which has remained vacant since the school closed in 1969, is now the site offeres a walking track community gardens, picnic shelters and a recreational field.
HISTORIC BALLENGER HOUSE
The Ballenger House (circa 1925) is a red brick home built in the foursquare style surrounded by sumptuous gardens and located in the heart of Historic Downtown Seneca. The beautiful home is used for weddings, showers, art exhibits and fundraisers.
LAKE HARTWELL STATE RECREATION AREA
This 56,000-acre lake maintains a reputation for top-flight angling, including for striped bass and hybrid bass, largemouth, crappie, bream, and catfish. In addition to lake access, the site offers hiking, affordable one-room camper cabins, and an information center, which has on display an array of vintage fishing equipment.
"My wife and I love traveling in South Carolina. When we discovered the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor, it was a perfect fit for us. Now, we are regularly updated on destination spots in South Carolina. Truly a great resource."
- Mr. and Mrs. Garrison