Originally called “Seneca City,” it was founded in 1873 at the point of where two railroad lines connecting Atlanta and Charlotte crossed. Earlier, a Native American village named Esseneca was settled by the Cherokee near present-day Clemson University. Seneca recently adopted the motto “City of Smiles, City with Style.
Walhalla is the county seat of Oconee County. It began as a settlement for German immigrants, and its name means “Garden of the Gods.” The town of Walhalla was founded in the 1850’s by the German Settlement Society. The Blue Ridge Railroad Company was chartered in 1852 to build a railroad to West Union near Walhalla and extend it over the mountains to Georgia and Tennessee. Work was begun on the route which passes through the Andrew Pickens District in 1853. The proposed railroad failed in 1859 for financial reasons and was never completed. It was built to West Union in 1860 and terminated at Walhalla in 1870. Today the town is a popular antiquing destination with an estimated population of just over 3800. It is home to the famed “Oktoberfest.”
The City of Westminster is in the foothills of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. With a diversified economic base, ranging from modern industry to the quaint shops along Old Main Street, and surrounded by rivers, lakes, forests, mountains and golf courses, Westminster offers a wide variety of occupational and recreational opportunities. A treasure trove of wonderful architecture, Westminster boasts more than one hundred homes that are unique to the late 1800’s and turn-of-the-century – 90 percent of them occupied and maintained with great diligence and pride. Old Main Street, with its unique shops and hometown atmosphere, has benefited from an influx of private investment to restore and renovate most of its buildings. Westminster is one of the few small southern communities with a textile mill still located and operating within its’ city limits.
Newry is an unincorporated textile mill village in Oconee County, just off the shores of Lake Keowee. Newry is on the National Register of Historic Places as a district, known for its historic mill and mill village.
Mountain Rest, SC
Mountain Rest is an unincorporated community near the Chattooga River in northwestern Oconee.
Fair Play, SC
Fairplay is an unincorporated community in Oconee close to I-85. It is close to Hartwell Lake and is host to popular boating and golf activities.
Long Creek, SC
Long Creek is a rural community in western Oconee County. It is surrounded by the Sumter National Forest. . Outdoor enthusiasts visit Long Creek for whitewater rafting, kayaking, swimming, fishing, hiking, and zip-line canopy tours. There are over 20 waterfalls in Long Creek.
The small town of Salem is located just off the beautiful Scenic Highway 11 in Oconee and is a gateway to both the Blue Ridge Mountains and the lakes of Jocassee and Keowee. Salem’s town charter was first approved in 1907, with a new charter approved in 1952. Originally a lumber town with six sawmills, Salem became an agricultural town, latching onto cotton. Its small “official” population of under 200 belies its rich history and what today is considered to be a haven for fantastic home sites, outdoor activities and mountain adventures. Within just minutes of the town of Salem are the famous Cliffs at Keowee Falls, Cliffs Vineyards, the Reserve at Keowee and Keowee Key, each with their renowned signature golf courses. Waterfalls, rivers, mountain trails and beautiful state parks are all close by.
West Union, SC
West Union is a small town located in between Seneca and Walhalla which today hosts several retail and antique establishments, attracting shoppers from across the county. In 1880 West Union was first incorporated after being founded by recognized temperance advocate Joseph Grisham. One of the early businesses in West Union was Burns Mill on Cane Creek for grinding grain. Across the creek, at one time, there was a woodworking shop, and cotton gin. Originally this land was part of the Kleinbeck tract of the early German Colonization Society in Walhalla. The Blue Ridge railroad ended in West Union. Later the tracks were finished to Walhalla. Approximately 300 residents live in the town limits town limits of West Union.