In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, North Augusta was a popular winter retreat for well-to-do northerners. Excellent rail connections, a mild climate, and its proximity to the large winter colony at Aiken combined to make the town a well-patronized winter destination for tourists from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
(Aiken County; 2000 pop. 17,574). North Augusta lies on the Savannah River opposite Augusta, Georgia. Incorporated on April 11, 1906, the city grew on the site of the antebellum town of Hamburg. Following that town’s demise after the Civil War, new families settled in the area, including the Butlers, Hahns, and Mealings. By 1880 they had formed the North Augusta Land Company and constructed a new bridge across the Savannah River. James U. Jackson and the North Augusta Land Company built the Thirteenth Street Bridge in 1891. The company donated land for the first school in 1898. By 1903 residents were seeking to incorporate the town.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, North Augusta was a popular winter retreat for well-to-do northerners. Excellent rail connections, a mild climate, and its proximity to the large winter colony at Aiken combined to make the town a well-patronized winter destination for tourists from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Between 1903 and 1916 the famous Hampton Terrace Hotel greeted many notable guests including John D. Rockefeller and president-elect William Howard Taft. Fire destroyed the hotel on December 31, 1916.
Recent archaeology has shed light on North Augusta’s historic pottery industry. In the 1990s surveys of the riverbank near the site of Hamburg revealed stoneware shards, traces of kilns, a clay mill, and other evidence of several active potteries. Potters and kaolin exporters came to the North Augusta area as early as 1735. By 1899 at least three potteries operated in Schultz Township (North Augusta). The Edgefield tradition of alkaline glazed pottery persisted in the North Augusta area until 1908. In 1929 a severe flood damaged the works of the potter Mark Baynham, who sued the state, alleging that the construction of highways in the Hamburg–North Augusta area contributed to the destruction of his pottery.
The cold war and the atomic bomb transformed North Augusta in the 1950s. On November 28, 1950, the Atomic Energy Commission announced the construction of the Savannah River Plant, to be located just south of the town. The plant produced rapid growth and development in North Augusta. Population more than tripled, from 3,659 in 1950 to more than 14,000 by 1956. In 1951 the area of North Augusta increased from 722 acres to 5,139 acres. By 2000 an additional 11,500 acres had been annexed, bringing the city’s total land area to almost eighteen square miles.
North Augusta celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1956. In 1969 North Augusta boasted a median family income seventy-one percent higher than the state as a whole. In 1994 the Savannah River Site and the Graniteville Company were North Augusta’s top employers. Environmental concerns, the end of the cold war, and an aging facility led to production cutbacks and employee layoffs at the Savannah River Site in the 1990s. The city has a council form of government and annually hosts cultural events at Creighton Living History and Riverview Parks.
“Golden Memories Panorama”: A Historical Spectacle Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of North Augusta. North Augusta, S.C., 1956.
Newell, Mark M., and Nick Nichols. The River Front Potters of North Augusta: Preliminary Report. Augusta: Georgia Archaeological Institute, 1998.
Vandervelde, Isabel. Aiken County: The Only South Carolina County Founded during Reconstruction. Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1999.