Hampton County

Watermelon Capital

Once mapped as “Indian Lands”, this county of deep forests, swamps, and ponds is today famous to many sportsmen, hunters and fishermen for its exceptional hunting grounds and excellent river and creek fishing.

Not only does the Lowcountry offer one of the longest hunting seasons in the country, it also contains the largest whitetailed deer populations in the state.

Evidence of this area’s first residents, the native Indians can still be seen through such fascinating river names as the Salkehatchie, the Combahee and the Coosawhatchie. Hunting for Indian artifacts is a popular pastime, especially over a freshly plowed field after a good rain where many an arrowhead or pottery shard can be discovered.

The town of Hampton is the county seat, named after General Wade Hampton, an important Civil War military leader and former state governor. Hampton, along with its sister town of Varnville are the hosts of the annual Hampton County Watermelon Festival, South Carolina’s oldest continuing festival dating back to 1939. Hampton County is a major producer of watermelons in the state and each June over 60,000 visitors come to help celebrate and enjoy this delicious summertime crop.

Yemassee, just one mile off Interstate 95, hosts an annual Shrimp Festival in September, celebrating the abundance of shrimp caught locally each year and featuring a boat parade, kiddie rides and unique shrimp cuisine. Furman, Estill and Gifford are hosts to spring, summer and fall festivals. Brunson is host to a “Fun Day” for you and Varnville celebrates with a “Day in the Park”.

Recreation abounds at Lake Warren State Park, a 1,390 acre fishing, boating and picnic area. Nature lovers can view alligators and water birds from the pier or along the lake’s edge.

Other attractions throughout this county of friendly rural towns are farms and numerous antebellum plantation homes, historic churches and cemeteries.

Unique sights to see include the Webb Wildlife Center, Hampton’s town and county museums (both in historic buildings), and the town of Varnville which was the setting for 1930s scenes from the movie “Forrest Gump.” The Hampton Museum & Visitors Center is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hampton County Attractions

Brunson’s Famous Town Hall
Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” cited it as the world’s only town hall on stilts. Although no longer on stilts, it stands tall and proud as a landmark of this once “largest town” on the Charleston & Western Railroad. The main reason for the stilts was to provide shade for the artesian well.

Hampton’s American Legion Hut
This home of American Post 108, located at 302 Hoover St South, was built of cypress logs in 1933. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hampton’s Arts Park
This community project in downtown Hampton transformed an unsightly piece of land into a new and vibrant park with no governmental funding.  Hwy 278 across from courthouse.

Hampton County Courthouse
This “Temple of Justice” is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1878, the same year the SC General Assembly declared this northern portion of Beaufort County its own separate county. Hwy 278.

Hampton County Museum
702 First Street West, Hampton, (803)943-3387 or (803)943-5484, Th 10am-noon & 4-7pm, Sun 3-5pm. Housed in the former Hampton Jailhouse building, operated & maintained as a joint effort by Hampton County & the Historic Society. Contains a Civil War memorabilia, including various maps, uniforms, photographs of the county, its people & their ancestors.

Hampton Museum & Visitors Center
15 Elm Street East, Hampton, (803)943-5318, Th 2-5pm, S 2-5pm, 1st Sun of the month 3-5pm. Contains military artifacts, as well as a children’s room. Exhibits antique medical equipment donated by local physicians & a section dedicated to ethnic cultures of the Lowcountry. Local craftsmen & artisans also contribute to continuous rotating exhibits. On National Register of Historic Places.

Hampton Walking Tour
Leaves from Hampton Museum & Visitors Center or Chamber of Commerce Offices, 15 Elm Street East, Hampton. (803)943-5318 or (803)943-3784. Peaceful walking tour of a small southern town’s historic buildings, elegant gardens & quaint shops.

Lake Warren State Park
Located off Hwy. 601 South, (803)943-5051. 400-acre park offers pier fishing, boating, picnicking, & nature viewing on a shady lake. Open dawn to dusk.

Lawtonville Baptist Church
Corner of 2nd & Lawton Avenue, Estill, (803)625-2871. Constituted in 1775, boasts pictures, brochures & interesting artifacts of Hampton County’s past.

Lawtonville Cemetery
Circa 1819. Site of Lawtonville Village (destroyed by Gen. Sherman’s troops). View remains of masonry staircase of one of the oldest Baptist churches in South Carolina. Near Estill.

Stoney Creek Presbyterian Chapel
Circa 1832. Built in the high piney woods in McPhersonville. Plantation owners & their families had summer residences here. Many gave up portions of their property to provide place of worship. The chapel was also used as a hospital during the Civil War.

Town of Varnville
Originally known as “Dixie”, circa 1800. View lovely old homes. It was said that the aristocrats settled in Varnville. One of the original founders, James Varn, operated a sawmill. Scenes from the movie “Forrest Gump” were filmed here. Town Park features gazebo and restored caboose.

Town of Varnville Walking Tour
Leaves from Old Varnville Gym on Pine Street. (803)943-2979.

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Lake Warren State Park