York County; 2020 pop. 11,696). A recreation-oriented community on Lake Wylie with stronger ties to North Carolina than South Carolina, Tega Cay came into being in 1970 when Duke Power Company sold sixteen hundred acres in northwestern Fort Mill Township to the Ervin Company of Charlotte. The name allegedly comes from an obscure Polynesian dialect and means “Lovely Peninsula.” Historically, the site was identified as India Hook Hills, which aptly described the red clay spur of land that jutted like a fishhook into the Catawba River. The unique landscape blends a mountainlike atmosphere with a man-made lake created in 1904, when the Catawba River was dammed by Duke Power at India Hook Shoals. The resulting peninsula contained more than sixteen miles of shoreline, with Gold Hill Road serving as the land access to the city.
The Ervin Company and several later companies folded before completing their development plans. In 1982 Tega Cay citizens chose to incorporate in the hope that they would achieve greater control over growth and services. Why choose to be a city instead of a town? One citizen reported that the application papers sent from the secretary of state’s office in Columbia allowed them to check whether they wished to be a city rather than a town. Since nearby Fort Mill was a town, they decided to become a city. On July 4, 1982, Tega Cay became a South Carolina municipality. Every year since then, city residents have made the Fourth of July the city’s birthday party. Fireworks, block parties, a boat parade, and other events are coordinated by Tega Cay’s Property Owners Association. From the beginning of the Catawba Indian suit against the property owners of the area in 1976 until the settlement in 1993, Tega Cay, to a greater degree than other municipalities in the suit area, was handicapped by the cloud over land titles. With the successful conclusion of the Catawba suit led by Congressman John Spratt (who for five years served as attorney for Tega Cay), the city was freed to attract further developers. However, like their predecessors, several of the new developers also went bankrupt.
The 1990 census revealed that the Tega Cay population was not typical of South Carolina municipalities. The city had no African American residents. More than one-third of the adult population held college degrees (in contrast to 16.6 percent of adults statewide). The city’s per capita income of $23,207 was the third-highest among all South Carolina cities and towns. There were far fewer senior citizens than the statewide average (and none over age eighty-five), with most of the population between twenty-five and sixty-four years of age. A high percentage were employed in North Carolina.
In 2000 a massive new development, Stonecrest, was announced by Coldwell Banker / Tuttle Company, which anticipated 119 acres of town houses and apartments along with a second entrance to Tega Cay. Such expansion plans seem to indicate that Tega Cay’s growth and prosperity will continue well into the new century.