Right in the Middle of Fun and Adventure
York County, South Carolina, is centrally located for all sorts of adventures. Its proximity to Charlotte, North Carolina, means that urban conveniences are never far away. When you're in York County, though, natural spaces and outdoor recreation are never far either. Plus, South Carolina's coastal location makes beach weekends an alluring possibility.
From the lakes to the mountains, the urban streets to the historical attractions, York County has a little something for everyone. Add in the community charm and friendly attitudes that are so prevalent here, and it's easy to see why York County is growing by leaps and bounds.
Revolutionary War Significance
Several centuries ago, the Catawba Indians and other Native American tribes lived in this area. European settlers began arriving in the mid-1700s. Many of them were Presbyterians from Scotland and Ireland.
A few decades later, South Carolina became an important center of Revolutionary War battles. More military conflicts occurred in this colony than any of the others. Two of the fights happened within the boundaries of York County. Known as the battles of Huck's Defeat and Kings Mountain, they both took place in 1780. As wins for the Patriot side, these clashes contributed to American independence.
In 1785, York County was officially recognized by the state legislature of South Carolina. The town of Fergus Crossroads was chosen to be the county seat. Fergus Crossroads changed names a few times over the years, but it eventually became York. The city of York is still the county seat today.
In the early days, the most important aspects of the York County economy were farming and mining. The Civil War, however, ushered in many changes. One key difference was the rise of the local cotton mills. Over the next several decades, the textile industry became the most important piece of the York County economy. As the textile business grew, so, too, did towns. Rock Hill and Fort Mill rose to local prominence during that era. And today Rock Hill is the state's fifth most populous city.
Much has changed over the last several decades, but York County still remembers its roots. In fact, this county is part of what's known as South Carolina's Olde English District, named for its British settlers, its colonial heritage and its key role in the struggle for American independence.
Lakes, Rivers and Mountains
York County is nestled in the northern portion of the South Carolina. It's considered part of the state's Midlands region because it's in neither the east nor the west — it's simply right in the middle of the state. Just across the state line lies Charlotte, North Carolina.
A portion of the state line is formed by Lake Wylie. This is a manmade lake that covers 12,455 acres of land. The shoreline, which includes territory in both North and South Carolina, stretches 325 miles. Created by the construction of a dam in 1904, it's the oldest lake associated with the Catawba River.
The Catawba cuts across northeastern York County and forms much of its eastern border. The rest of the eastern county line is marked by Sugar Creek, which flows into the Catawba. On the southwestern side, the Broad River forms the county line.
York County is in the Piedmont region of South Carolina, so the territory is rather hilly. There are seven summits as well. They include Nanny Mountain, Barnett Mountain and Henry Knob.
Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park are in the northwestern corner of the state. The 6,885-acre state park is home to Lake York and Lake Crawford. The impressive 16-mile Kings Mountain Hiking Trail connects the two parks.
Other natural areas in the county include the James Ross Wildlife Reservation, the Draper Wildlife Management Area, the Herbert Kirsh Wildlife Conservation Area and the Rock Hill Blackjacks Heritage Preserve. The Anne Springs Close Greenway is another popular natural recreation area.
Youthful, Growing Community
Between 2010 and 2019, the population of York County grew by over 24%. These days, the county is home to more than 280,000 people. Based on 2019 Census Bureau estimates, it's the seventh-largest county in South Carolina.
Approximately 75% of York County residents are white. Almost 20% of the people are Black. The county is also about 3% Asian, and there are small populations of people with Native American or Pacific Islander heritage.
York is a youthful county. Less than 15% of the residents are age 65 or older. 24% of the people are younger than 18 years old.
In years past, mining, agriculture and textiles formed the backbone of the York County economy. These days, technology and finance are more integral to the local economy.
Many people who live near the state line commute into the city of Charlotte for work. But that doesn't mean that York County doesn't have a strong economy of its own. The business and financial sector has added more than 6,500 jobs to York County since 2014. The Knowledge Park district in Rock Hill and the Kingsley district in Fort Mill are especially attractive to businesses. Citi Financial, the Lash Group and One Main Holdings are just a few of the companies that have a substantial presence in York County.
The chemical industry employs about 1,330 people in York County, and the advanced materials industry is responsible for about 2,977 jobs. Other top sectors include food and beverage products, warehousing, and transportation parts. Schaeffler Group USA, which makes automotive components, is the largest manufacturer in the county.
Tourism also plays a role in the local economy. Many people come to enjoy the history-themed attractions throughout the Olde English District. The area's waterways and parks also draw visitors to the area.
Winthrop University in Rock Hill has been recognized as a top college by both U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review. York Technical College is another Rock Hill option for higher education. It prepares workers for many of the area's industries, including logistics and manufacturing.
Something for Everyone in York County
At Kings Mountain National Military Park, you can satisfy your inner history buff and your inner nature lover. To learn about the battle fought there, check out the park's visitor center, or attend a demonstration. They're held occasionally throughout the year. If you're not up for the 16-mile hiking loop, try the 1.8-mile Ridgeline Trail instead. It not only connects Kings Mountain National Military Park and Kings Mountain State Park, but it also goes to Crowder's Mountain State Park in North Carolina.
For another outdoor experience, try Anne Springs Close Greenway. The property includes hiking, biking and horseback trails. To enjoy the facility's Lake Haigler, you can rent a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak. Fishing is another option.
Of course, Lake Wylie offers plenty of recreational fun, too! A visit to Ebenezer Park is one option for enjoying the waterfront. Camping, boating and fishing are a few of the amenities at this park.
Culture & Heritage Museums is an association of four York County attractions. They include the Main Street Children's Museum, Historic Brattonsville, the McCelvey Center and the Museum of York County. Within the McCelvey Center is the Lowry Family Theater, where you can attend a concert in the Southern Sound Series. In addition to exploring the exhibits in the Museum of York County, you can also check out the museum's Settlemyre Planetarium.
Other cultural attractions in York County include the Gettys Art Center and the Sylvia Theater. The Rock Hill Symphony, NarroWay Productions and the Rock Hill Community Theatre are known for their live performances.
Rock Hill, Fort Mill and York have a variety of specialty shops, boutiques and gift stores. There are more than 10 farmer's markets in the county as well. You'll need energy for a busy day of shopping, but the area's many southern-style restaurants can help with that.
Don't miss Summerfest, which is held in York each August. According to the South Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel, this annual event is worthy of a Most Outstanding Festival of the Year award. Other popular York County festivals include the South Carolina Strawberry Festival in May, the Blues and Jazz Festival in August, and ChristmasVille in December.
Also, Carowinds, a 407 acre amusement park -- the largest in the Carolinas -- is partially located in York County. You'll love the annual SCarowinds event at Halloween, among many other fantastic activities at the park.
No matter when you're in York County, there's always plenty to see and do!