South Carolina's Oldest Inland City
Camden and Kershaw County are home to numerous historic buildings, battlefields, and sites. Whether your interest is Native American culture, military history, or the lives of those who lived "back in the day," we have something for everyone.
In 1730, colonial Governor Robert Johnson ordered the establishment of eleven townships across the backcountry of South Carolina. The township located on the Wateree River was surveyed in 1733 and named Fredericksburg. Originally the concentrated town area was intended for the area around present-day Cantey Lane, but that site was never settled.
The earliest permanent settlers, a group of Quakers, located around present-day Lugoff near the river in the 1750s. When Joseph Kershaw moved to the area in 1758, he established a store, saw and gristmills, indigo works, a distillery, and a tobacco warehouse at what he called Pine Tree Hill.
Kershaw laid out the first town plan on land around Big and Little Pine Tree Creeks, where Historic Camden is located today. The earliest plan dates to 1774. Kershaw's settlement became known as Camden in 1768, in honor of Charles Pratt, Lord Camden, an advocate of the American colonists' rights.
Camden's Place in History
After the Reconstruction Period, Camden developed as an equine center—Steeplechase races, polo, and horse shows became hallmarks of Camden's style.
Also during this period, Camden evolved into a tourist mecca for Northerners and mid-Westerners seeking a warmer winter climate. Camden had three large tourist hotels and many smaller boarding houses. The "Hotel Era" lasted from 1882 through the years of World War II.
Camden in the Hotel Era
Running Time - 7:07
To learn more about Camden, explore the Camden Archives and Museum.