Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wedding Week Repost: Mad About The Town

Well, since I'm away, I thought I'd offer up a little tour of Smallville [real name: Camden} for those of you — and I'm assuming that's all of you, who've never been here.

Camden is the fourth oldest city in of South Carolina, and is actually the oldest inland city, with a population of roughly 8,000. In total area, Camden is 9.8 square miles, of which 9.6 is land, and 0.2 is water.

Like I said, Smallville.

In 1730—yes, almost three hundred years ago — Camden became part of a township plan ordered by King George II, and was laid out in 1732 as the town of Fredericksburg in the Wateree River swamp — just  south of present-day Camden.

When King George III 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, and the Fredericksburg 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 inland trade center in the colony, and Kershaw suggested that the town be renamed Camden, in honor of Lord Camden, the champion of colonial rights.

In May 1780 the American Revolution came to Charleston, and that town was captured. Afterwards, Lord Charles Cornwallis and 2,500 of his troops marched into Camden and established it as 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 in Camden, and the Battle of Hobkirk Hill was fought by 1,400 American troops led by General Nathanael Greene and 950 British soldiers led by Lord Francis Rawdon on April 25, 1781. The latter battle was a costly win for the British, and forced them to leave Camden.

And there’s the Robert Mills Courthouse, designed in 1825 by "South Carolina's Architect", Robert Mills. The courthouse features a copper roof, brick floors, vaulted central hallway, double arched ceilings downstairs; built to be fireproof, the walls of the courthouse are 22-inch thick masonry at the base covered by plaster, tapering to about fifteen inches thick at the second floor.  The single courtroom has been restored to conform to an 1845 renovation, when wide pine plank floors were installed to cover the second story brick floor. 

Robert Mills, also known as America's first architect, studied under Thomas Jefferson, PIerre L' Enfant, and James Hoban, and also designed the Washington Monument and the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C.

After the Civil War — Camden was one of the few Southern cities not directly involved in the war — Camden became a place where rich Northern families would spend the winter, bringing their prize horses with them. 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 field home and for that reason, Camden is now known as the ‘Steeplechase Capital of the World’.”

The Carolina Cup is an annual event held on either the final Saturday in March or the first Saturday of April, with the first race held on March 22, 1930; the Cup has been held every year since, with the exception of 1943 and 1945 when a little old thing called World War Two got in the way — why they had a Cup in '44 is not known.

The races have become a South Carolina tradition, and normally draw crowds of over 70,000 spectators to Camden. As Casa Bob y Carlos is on the road to the racecourse, we see most of these people driving, and walking, to the Cup.

The Cup has become a premier social sporting event at Springdale Race Course, which is also home to the Marion du Pont Scott Colonial Cup held on the third Sunday in November.

It's a big deal in Smallville.

And so, y'all, there's a little history, and a few pictures of Small.....er, Camden.

2 comments:

the dogs' mother said...

Enjoyed that. So much history in the east.

anne marie in philly said...

I too have never been to smallville; thanks for the guided tour!