In the late 1800s and early 1900s the area was only land with a dirt road running through it. In 1890 Daniel Burnette obtained land on one side of the dirt road. In 1901 he sold a few lots, homes were built, and the property became known as “Mr. Burnette’s land.” A portion was later traversed by the route of a proposed interurban trolley line between Aiken and Augusta, Georgia.
(Aiken County; 2020 pop. 2,769). Incorporated in 1941, Burnettown is located in the Horse Creek Valley of Aiken County. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the area was only land with a dirt road running through it. In 1890 Daniel Burnette obtained land on one side of the dirt road. In 1901 he sold a few lots, homes were built, and the property became known as “Mr. Burnette’s land.” A portion was later traversed by the route of a proposed interurban trolley line between Aiken and Augusta, Georgia. As word spread about the trolley line, people built houses on both sides of the proposed tracks. When the trolley began operation in 1902, people realized that there was no name for this land between the mill villages of Langley and Bath. Passengers boarding or departing the trolley at this point decided to call the site Burnette Town. The trolley was discontinued in 1929, and its tracks were taken up and replaced by a road. Improvements in the surrounding mill towns took place as well. Water lines were laid and a new road was paved, which became S.C. Highway 421. Later a more modern highway was built on the opposite side of Horse Creek; this road became U.S. Highway 1.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, after the demise of the trolley line, a few enterprising men in the Horse Creek Valley bought cars to taxi mill employees to work. To continue this business, however, it was necessary to have an incorporated town between Aiken and Augusta to license these taxis to pick up passengers on the highway. Like most textile towns, Langley and Bath were owned by the mills and therefore not incorporated. Since it was not a mill town, Burnettown opted to incorporate. On June 5, 1941, a charter was issued to this town of 423 people. George R. Dillon was elected as the first mayor.
To celebrate the town’s fiftieth birthday, a street dance was held in 1991. This event evolved into a weeklong annual celebration– the Sassafras Festival–now attended by several thousand people the first week of October.
The 2000 census recorded that Burnettown was the fastest-growing town in South Carolina, with a population that grew from just 493 in 1990 to 2,720 by 2000 (a 452 percent increase). Most of this increase was the result of a series of annexations that took place in the 1990s. With the decline of the textile industry in the late twentieth century, the workforce has become more diverse. Many residents still work in textile plants, but many others work in education or local government, or they commute to the Savannah River Site. Recent improvements include construction of the Fun Valley Sassafras Park and a partnership with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to establish Horse Creek/Midland Valley Veterans Park.