The Town of Central sits less than five miles from the City of Clemson, in between Clemson University and Southern Wesleyan University. The growth of both Universities is a contributing factor to Central’s recent growth. Additionally, the area around the Wal-Mart Center, located just south of town, has spurred commercial growth. This town of over 5,000 had a prominent role in the early development of the Pickens County area. Situated as the central point on the railroad between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina it developed as a railroad town that served as the prime terminal where engines could be fueled and changed. Hence, the name Central.
The railroad continues to be a prominent feature of the Town. The Central Railroad Museum is a train buff’s must see venue. Model trains and railroad history are preserved by the Central Railroad Club members who maintain the museum. Each spring the Central Area Chamber Business Council produces the Railroad Festival. The main street is blocked off for entertainment, food and vendor booths with a railroad theme woven into the proceedings. Railroad paraphernalia is sold by vendors. The Railroad Club sets up large display boards of operating model trains, the Railroad Museum opens its doors, and railroad entertainment is on the menu. Adding to the railroad lure is an original red caboose, mounted on a platform at the corner of E Main Street and Church Street, which has become a popular photo opportunity for visitors and train buffs.
Adding to the Railroad theme is the Grand Central Station Disc Golf Course. Owned and operated by he Town of Central, this course was designed around the Town’s Railroad Theme and History. This 18-hole course sits on 28 acres and encompasses a variety of terrain including fields, hills, bottom lands, creeks and pine forests. It is the 3rd longest free-play course in South Carolina at 6,636 feet in length. Disc Golf Review ranks the Grand Central Station Disc Golf Course one of the Top 10 in the Nation and in the Top 5 in the Southeast.
Railroading isn’t the only history. Much interesting local history is chronicled at the Central Heritage Museum. Samuel Maverick Sr., who died in 1852, is reputed to have been the richest man in South Carolina at one time. He was a neighbor of John C. Calhoun, Senator, Orator and Andrew Jackson’s Vice President. Samuel Maverick’s son Samuel Maverick, Jr. moved to Texas. During the struggle to take Texas from Mexico, Maverick, Jr. stood with Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie at the Alamo. He was the only survivor having been sent to secure reinforcements for the embattled mission station before it fell to the Mexican Army. The younger Maverick was involved in the founding of San Antonio and the term “Maverick” was coined to describe one who did not brand his calves, an independent individual who did not go along with a group, which described this former South Carolinian.
Another point of interest in this historic community is Collins Ole Town. Although only open by appointment, visiting this pre-depression-era grouping of buildings including country store, barbershop, little red school house and blacksmith shop provides a feeling for life as it was lived in the country almost 100 years ago. For history dating over 150 years ago a visit to Freedoms Hill Church on the campus of Southern Wesleyan University brings visitors in touch with the story of a congregations founding in 1847 by Wesleyan Methodist Minister who opposed slavery in the turbulent years before the Civil War.
Several manufacturing plants dot the area, contributing to the local economy and providing steady employment to Central, while reinforcing the Upstate’s reputation for fueling South Carolina’s leadership in a manufacturing rebirth.