Clemson

1892 –

The train depot proved essential to Clemson’s prosperity. Through it passed most of the people and supplies connected with the town and college.

(Pickens County; 2000 pop. 11,939). This small college town began as Town of Calhoun, incorporated on December 24, 1892, and located about a mile from the new campus of Clemson Agricultural College. The Calhoun Land Company (CLC), chartered in 1893, owned six hundred acres situated along the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railway (later Southern Railway), but little existed there except the depot. The CLC placed the first lots for sale on July 4, 1893, claiming that the property “affords a beautiful site for a large town near the Clemson Agricultural College.” As the town grew, it provided housing and shopping for the college population, including a grocery store, a blacksmith, a livery stable, a bank, boardinghouses, and drugstores. In 1899 the former Clemson cadet Isaac L. Keller opened a shop he called “Judge Keller’s,” which operated in town for over one hundred years. The first church was Fort Hill Presbyterian, organized in 1895, which met upstairs in Boggs’ Store until its sanctuary was completed the next year. By 1900 Calhoun’s population stood at 209.

The train depot proved essential to Clemson’s prosperity. Through it passed most of the people and supplies connected with the town and college. Due to confusion caused by the simultaneous existence of post offices named Calhoun, Fort Hill, and Clemson College, plus Calhoun Falls and Fort Mill in other parts of the state, goods were often misdirected and the wrong tickets issued to train passengers. In 1943 a residents’ petition resulted in a June 5 vote, after which the name was changed to Town of Clemson by a vote of fifty-six to nine. The Clemson Town Council made it official by its June 11 ordinance. The changeover of the sign at the railroad station on October 1, 1943, sparked a newspaper article covering the big event.

During the 1960s the city of Clemson tripled in area due to an aggressive annexation policy. The population grew nearly six hundred percent between 1960 and 1995. Improved roads and public services, a new Clemson Indoor Recreation Center, and the successful city-university cooperative operation of the Clemson Area Transit system, known as CAT, provided further examples of a dynamic town. As the second half of the twentieth century progressed, more businesses grew up along the main street between campus and the old Calhoun section, which eventually spilled over along U.S. Highway 123 and beyond. The Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce adopted “In Season Every Season” as its slogan, emphasizing that Clemson had more to offer than football games, and that they were always willing to roll out the orange carpet.

Bryan, Wright. Clemson: An Informal History of the University, 1889–1979. Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1979.

Calhoun Land Company Records. Pendleton District Commission, Pendleton.

McMahon, Sean H. Country Church and College Town: A History of Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, 1895–1995. Clemson, S.C.: Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, 1994

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Clemson
  • Coverage 1892 –
  • Author
  • Keywords Clemson Agricultural College, Calhoun Land Company (CLC), Clemson Area Transit,
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date April 13, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 10, 2019
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