From waterfalls and lakes to history and crafts, the Upcountry's counties are rich in culture, heritage and natural resources.
Pickens County is home to Clemson University as well as the South Carolina Botanical Garden which features several thousand varieties of native, exotic, rare and endangered plants. The University's Brooks Center for Performing Arts offers audiences the best in music, dance and theater. A nature-lover's paradise, Pickens County has wonderful parks and recreational activities, as well as many scenic vistas. Located here is Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina's highest peak at 3,554 feet. There is a new visitor center at Jocassee Gorges located at Keowee-Toxaway State Natural Area. It serves as the gateway to roughly 50,000 acres of largely undisturbed, protected land where the Blue Ridge Mountains quickly fall 2,000 feet to the Piedmont below.
Other historically-significant sites include the Hagood-Mauldin House and Hagood Mill, one of the oldest known surviving gristmills (1845) still producing grain products in South Carolina. The Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and is also the location of one of the most impressive petroglyph sites discovered in South Carolina.
The county and its county seat were named for Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens (1739-1817). This area in the northwestern corner of the state was Indian territory until 1777, and the earliest European settlers in this region were Indian traders. John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), United States vice president, senator, and cabinet member, made his home at Fort Hill plantation in Pickens County. His son-in-law, Thomas Green Clemson (1807-1888), bequeathed the plantation to the state for use as an agricultural college, which led to the founding of Clemson University. Pickens County is also part of one of the nation's fastest growing regions, the I-85 corridor. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, Pickens County has the best of both worlds. It has a small town atmosphere while only 30 minutes from Greenville and two hours from Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC. Pickens encompasses beautiful Lakes Jocassee and Keowee, and is home to prestigious Clemson University. It is an area rich in history, beauty, and vision for the future.