is the westernmost county
of South Carolina
, a U.S. state
. The 2000 census
recorded its population to be 66,215. In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau
estimated that its population had reached 69,577. Its county seat
. Other cities in the county include Seneca
. Towns include Salem
and West Union
. The county is included in the Seneca Micropolitan Statistical Area
The name Oconee is generally believed to be derived from a Hitichi (Creek) word meaning "land of springs". When the county was first formed, the name was picked up from the Yuchi Tribe (Creek) which was prevalent around Anderson and Pendleton, the seat of the district government. An alternative theory holds that the name and meaning came from the Cherokee language.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau
, the county has a total area of 674 square miles
), of which, 625 square miles (1,620 km²) of it is land and 48 square miles (125 km²) of it (7.15%) is water. The hilly landscape has created a haven for man-made lakes. Three large man-made lakes provide residents with sport fishing
, water skiing
, and sailing
as well as hydroelectric
power. The largest lake is Lake Hartwell
, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1955
. Lake Keowee
is the second largest lake and the Oconee Nuclear Station operates by the lake. Lake Jocassee
is the third largest and is a source of hydroelectric energy
, but is also popular for its breathtaking scenery and numerous waterfalls
. Bad Creek Reservoir, located in the mountains above Jocassee, is for generating electricity during peak hours. The water level can fall by tens of feet per hour and during off-peak times water is pumped back into the lake for the next peak period. Because of this, boating and swimming are prohibited in the reservoir.
- Jackson County, North Carolina - north
- Transylvania County, North Carolina - northeast
- Pickens County, South Carolina - east
- Anderson County, South Carolina - southeast
- Hart County, Georgia - south
- Franklin County, Georgia - south
- Stephens County, Georgia - southwest
- Habersham County, Georgia - west
- Rabun County, Georgia - west
- Macon County, North Carolina - northwest
Oconee County is one of the few counties in the U.S. to border 10 other counties.
- 1780s - The rare wildflower, Oconee Bell, first recorded by André Michaux.
- 1780s - After the Revolutionary War, Colonel Benjamin Cleveland and a group of followers received land grants from Georgia and settled in present day Oconee County.
- 1787 - Georgia withdrew its claims to the land between the Tugaloo and Keowee River by the Treaty of Beaufort to South Carolina.
- 1816 - Cherokee sold their remaining South Carolina land.
- 1850s - The largest town was Tunnel Hill, located above Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel.
- 1870- Air line Railroad build a railroad through the county which helped to form Seneca and Westminster
- 1893 - Newry was established as mill village to house workers of the Courtenay Manufacturing Company
- 1900s - The town of Salem was chartered.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 66,215 people, 27,283 households, and 19,589 families residing in the county. The population density
was 106 people per square mile (41/km²). There were 32,383 housing units at an average density of 52 per square mile (20/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 89.14% White
, 8.38% Black
or African American
, 0.22% Native American
, 0.35% Asian
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 1.06% from other races
, and 0.82% from two or more races. 2.36% of the population were Hispanic
of any race.
There were 27,283 households out of which 28.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.80% were married couples living together, 10.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 24.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.85.
In the county, the population was spread out with 22.90% under the age of 18, 8.00% from 18 to 24, 27.40% from 25 to 44, 26.20% from 45 to 64, and 15.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 96.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $36,666, and the median income for a family was $43,047. Males had a median income of $31,032 versus $22,156 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,965. About 7.60% of families and 10.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.00% of those under age 18 and 12.90% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
The Oconee region is mentioned in the song "Yankee Bayonet", by indie rock
stars The Decemberists