Camden, South Carolina


Camden is a city in
Kershaw County Kershaw County is a County (United States), county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, its population was 61,697. The county seat and largest city is Camden, South Carolina, Camden. The county was created in 1791 f ...
South Carolina South Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspap ...

South Carolina
, United States. It is the largest city and
county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government, or a county town, or the place where the central administration of a Township, commune is located. In countries with Fre ...
of Kershaw County. The population was 6,838 in the
2010 census2010 census may refer to: * 2010 Chinese Census * 2010 Dominican Republic Census * 2010 Indonesian census * 2010 Malaysian Census * 2010 Russian Census * 2010 Turkish census * 2010 United States Census * 2010 Zambian census {{Disambiguation ...
and an estimated 7,196 in 2018. It is part of the
Columbia, South Carolina Columbia is the List of capitals in the United States, capital of the U.S. state of South Carolina. With a population of 136,632 as of the 2020 U.S. Census, it is List of municipalities in South Carolina, the second-largest city in South Carol ...
Metropolitan Statistical Area #REDIRECT Metropolitan statistical area #REDIRECT Metropolitan statistical area#REDIRECT Metropolitan statistical area In the United States, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is a geographical region with a relatively high population density a ...
. Camden is the oldest inland city in South Carolina, and home to the Carolina Cup and the National Steeplechase Museum.


Camden is in northeastern South Carolina, in the south-central part of Kershaw County. It sits on the northeast side of the Wateree River, a south-flowing tributary of the Santee River. According to the United States Census Bureau, Camden has a total area of , of which are land and , or 6.21%, are water. U.S. Route 521 runs through downtown as Broad Street, leading southeast to Sumter, South Carolina, Sumter, and north to Charlotte, North Carolina. US 601 runs with US 521 through downtown, leading north with US 521 to Kershaw, South Carolina, Kershaw, and south on its own to St. Matthews, South Carolina, St. Matthews and to Orangeburg, South Carolina, Orangeburg. US Route 1 (DeKalb Street) intersects with US 521 and 601 in downtown, leading southwest to the state capital, Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia, and northeast to Cheraw, South Carolina, Cheraw. Interstate 20 in South Carolina, Interstate 20 passes south of the city's center; it leads east to Florence, South Carolina, Florence and southwest to Columbia.


*East Camden *Knights Hill *Dusty Bend *Windsor Heights *White Gardens *Arrowwood *The RaceTracks


Colonial years

Camden is the oldest inland city and fourth oldest city in South Carolina. It is near the center of the Cofitachequi chiefdom that existed in the 1500s. In 1730, Camden became part of a township plan ordered by George II of Great Britain, King George II. Kershaw County's official website states, "Originally laid out in 1732 as the town of Fredericksburg in the Wateree River swamp (south of the present town) when King George II ordered eleven inland townships established along South Carolina's rivers, few of the area settlers chose to take lots surveyed in the town, choosing the higher ground to the north. The township soon disappeared." In 1758, Joseph Kershaw from Yorkshire, England, came into the township, established a store and renamed the town "Pine Tree Hill". Camden became the main inland trade center in the colony. Kershaw suggested that the town be renamed Camden, in honor of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, Lord Camden, a champion of colonial rights in the British Parliament. In the 1770s it was the site of an early American porcelain factory, established by John Bartlam

American Revolution and antebellum era

May 1780 brought the American Revolution to Charleston, South Carolina, when it fell under the Crown's control. Lord Charles Cornwallis and 2,500 of his Loyalist and British troops marched to Camden and established there the main British supply post for the Southern campaign. The Battle of Camden, the worst American defeat of the Revolution, was fought on August 16, 1780, near Camden, and on April 25, 1781, the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill was fought between about 1,400 troops led by General Nathanael Greene and 950 Loyalists and British soldiers led by Lord Francis Rawdon. The latter battle was a costly win for the British, and forced them to leave Camden and retreat to the coast. After the Revolution, Camden's prominence and wealth grew as a major interior trading town with direct ties to Charleston and the world. Regional products, augmented with goods from the interior of North Carolina and far lands to the west were transported from Camden to Charleston on flat-bottom riverboats that plied the adjacent Wateree River before the railroad arrived in 1842. An Episcopal seminary opened in the town in 1857, but the campus burned during Sherman's invasion. The school did not reopen.

American Civil War and later years

Camden was the source of six Confederate States of America, Confederate generals during the American Civil War. Richard Rowland Kirkland – "The Angel of Marye's Heights" – is interred in the Old Quaker Cemetery. At the end of the war, components of William Tecumseh Sherman, Sherman's army burned Confederate and nearby properties, including a full block of downtown buildings. The last Federal officer killed in the Civil War was 1st Lt E.L. Stevens of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry who died in a skirmish 9 miles south of Camden at the Battle of Boykin's Mill on April 18, 1865. Starting in the mid-1880s the Camden area became an increasingly popular destination for wealthy northern families to spend the winter. Eventually three resort hotels provided winter tourism activities well into the 1930s and beyond. The town became associated with many equestrian activities, and is now the home of the third oldest active polo field in America. In the winter, more than 1,500 thoroughbreds call the area home. According to Kershaw County's web site, "Horse related activities became very popular. That interest in equine activities has continued and today the horse industry is a major part of the county economy. For that reason, the city is known as the 'Steeplechase (horse racing), Steeplechase Capital of the World'." In 1950, Dupont opened the Dupont May Plant in Camden which manufactured Orlon. The plant was located on five miles of land and employed over 2,000 people. For many years it was the town's largest employer. In 1977, DuPont notified the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of a study the company conducted which showed an "excessive incidence and cancer mortality" rate among a cohort of workers who worked at the plant from 1950 to 1955. The findings were liked to a major chemical component of Orlon, acrylonitrile. Citing issues with foreign competition, Dupont ended the production of Orlon in 1990. Since the closure of the Orlon plant, the town has attracted a number of manufacturing companies such as Hengst GmbH & Co. and Haier. In 2003, Target opened an $85 million distribution center in the town.


As of the census of 2010, there were 6,838 people living in the city limits, in 2,967 households and 1,800 families. The population density was 692.2 people per square mile (267.4/km2). There were 3,544 housing units at an average density of 331.8 per square mile (127.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 62.2% White (U.S. Census), White, 35.1% African American (U.S. Census), African American, 0.20% Native American (U.S. Census), Native American, 0.7% Asian (U.S. Census), Asian, 0% Pacific Islander (U.S. Census), Pacific Islander, 2.7% from Race (United States Census), other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic (U.S. Census), Hispanic or Latino (U.S. Census), Latino people of any race were 2.4% of the population. There were 2,967 households, out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.9% 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 2.94. In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.9% under the age of 18, 20.1% from 18 to 39, 34.5% from 40 to 64, 17.3% from 65 to 84, and 4.3% who were 85 years of age or older. The median age was 45.3 years. 45.0% of the population was male and 55.0% of the population was female. The median income for a household in the city was $48,313, and the median income for a family was $62,140. Males had a median income of $42,597 versus $32,524 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,385. About 13.7% of families and 15.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.3% of those under age 18 and 13.2% of those age 65 or over.


Camden has a city manager–council form of government. Alfred Mae Drakeford, an African American woman, was elected mayor of Camden in November 2016. Camden is represented in the South Carolina Senate by Vincent Sheheen, who was born in Camden. It is part of South Carolina's 5th Congressional District, which is represented by Ralph Norman.


The Kershaw County School District is the governing body of the public schools in the area. The district operates Pine Tree Hill Elementary School, Jackson Elementary School, Camden Elementary School, Woolard Technology Center (WTC), Camden Middle School, and Camden High School (Camden, South Carolina), Camden High School. Camden Military Academy, the Montessori School of Camden, and Cornerstone Christian School are private institutions. Central Carolina Technical College has two branches located in Camden. Camden has a public library, a branch of the Kershaw County Library.

Arts and culture

The Carolina Cup is an annual event held on either the final Saturday in March or the first Saturday of April. The first race was held on March 22, 1930, and has been held every year since, with the exception of 1943 and 1945 during World War II and 2020 due to the Coronavirus disease 2019, coronavirus. The races have become a South Carolina tradition, and normally draw a crowd of over 70,000 spectators. "The Cup" has become a premier social sporting event in Camden and in South Carolina. The race is held at the Springdale Race Course, just north of Camden. The National Steeplechase Museum is located near the course. Among major steeplechase horse races, the Carolina Cup is unique that in South Carolina state law prohibits gambling on horse racing. Held annually on the first Saturday of March, Irish Fest Camden draws over 2,000 visitors to its celebration of Saint Patrick's Day and Irish and Celtic culture. Founded in 2017, the festival features live Irish music and dancing, the Lucky Leprechaun 5K race, heavy event athletics, a kids zone, arts & crafts, a Medieval/Renaissance encampment, Irish wolfhounds, Gypsy Vanner horses, exotic birds, food trucks, and festive green beer. Revolutionary War Field Days is the signature event of Historic Camden, held the first full weekend of November since 1970.Revolutionary War Field Days
/ref> Hundreds of reenactors from across the country converge on the grounds to camp, battle, and celebrate over the weekend. Visitors have a chance to be a spectator for a battle each day, and they will be able to walk through the camps of the combatants while seeing demonstrations of Colonial crafts and skills. Colonial sutlers (merchants) and scholars giving talks about the war are on site as well. More than 3,400 spectators and 350 reenactors and demonstrators attended the 2017 event.


* Camden station (South Carolina), Seaboard Air Line Railway Depot * Woodward Field (airport), Woodward Field (Kershaw County Airport)


The ''Chronicle-Independent'' has served as the local newspaper of Camden since 1889. WPUB-FM is a radio station licensed to Camden that broadcasts oldies format. WCAM 1590 is another radio station licensed to Camden, which broadcasts in adult standards format.

Notable people

* Thomas Austin (American football), Thomas Austin, National Football League, NFL player * Bernard Baruch, financier and presidential adviser * Charles Bennett (American football), Charles Bennett, NFL player * Brook Benton, singer * Mary Chesnut, author and Civil War diarist * Larry Doby, first African American to play in the American League, member of National Baseball Hall of Fame, Baseball Hall of Fame * Bobby Engram, NFL player * Vonnie Holliday, NFL player * Lorenzo James, 19th-century politician * Joseph Brevard Kershaw (1822–1894), lawyer, judge and general * Lane Kirkland (1922-1999), union leader of AFL-CIO * Michael Kohn, Major League Baseball player * Kathleen Parker, journalist, winner of 2010 Pulitzer Prize for commentary; resident of Camden * Vincent Sheheen, South Carolina Senate, state senator and 2010 Democratic nominee for South Carolina gubernatorial election, 2010, governor * John C. West, Governor of South Carolina (1971–1975) * Lois Rhame West, First Lady of South Carolina (1971–1975), first woman to chair the Muscular Dystrophy Association. * Richie Williams (Canadian football), Richie Williams, Canadian Football League, CFL player * Samuel E. Wright, actor and Broadway performer * Shawn Elliott (American football), Shawn Elliott, Head Collegiate Coach, Georgia State University

See also

* List of historic landmarks in Camden, South Carolina


Further reading

* Inabelt, Joan & L. Glen Inabinet, ''A History of Kershaw County, South Carolina''. (University of South Carolina Press, 2011). 718 pg. See pp. 90, 237, 271, 328, 398, 427,431, 433, 538, 558–59. * Lewis, Kenneth E. ''The Carolina Backcountry Venture: Tradition, Capital, and Circumstance in the Development of Camden and the Wateree Valley, 1740—1810'' (University of South Carolina Press, 2017). xviii, 436 pp. * Stokes, Karen D., ed. "Sherman's Army Comes to Camden: The Civil War Narrative of Sarah Dehon Trapier", ''South Carolina Historical Magazine,'' 109 (April 2008), 95–120.

External links

Official website

Historic Camden

Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor's Center
{{Authority control Camden, South Carolina, Cities in South Carolina Cities in Kershaw County, South Carolina County seats in South Carolina Populated places established in 1730 Columbia metropolitan area (South Carolina) 1730 establishments in South Carolina