The small town of Ridge Spring in Saluda County is dissected by South Carolina’s fall line, a buckle of land that divides the Sand Hills from the Piedmont. The ridge is roughly marked by the tracks of the railroad. The second half of the community’s name honors a natural spring whose rocky basin is said to have been carved by Native Americans. The small spring still runs today and is located on the grounds of Bethel Church. In former times, congregants periodically dammed the spring to create a baptismal pool.
In the 1750s, land grants were issued to two of Ridge Spring’s founding fathers. John Carlin received 200 acres in 1752, and William Watson received 300 acres six years later, in 1758. King George awarded a third grant in 1771 to John Anderson. By at least 1806, a post office stood near here, and maps as early as 1762 label the settlement “The Ridge.”
It wasn’t until 1869, when the railroad was built, that the second half of the community’s name came to be. The company selected a site near a natural spring – located about a mile west of the original settlement – and built a depot and accompanying water tower. This encouraged the area’s growth pattern to shift. The depot (seen below) was initially located near the town clock (seen above) but has since been relocated to its present location beneath towering silos.
According to contributor Linda Brown, peach farming began here in 1925, and “The Ridge” is responsible for 85 percent of the peach production in South Carolina. Over the years, farmers have also successfully grown corn, asparagus, soybeans. Cotton, of course cotton, was the major cash crop prior to and just after the Civil War.
Ridge Spring was incorporated on December 23, 1882, and the town had a large centennial celebration during the fall of 1982. This celebration has now become tradition, and each October, Ridge Spring holds a Harvest Festival.
The unusual tractor (seen below) was the creation of South Carolina artist, Barbara Yon. The people of Ridge Spring first noticed Yon’s work when she created a life-sized horse statue for the town of Aiken. Not being in their budget, Yon decided to help out by working with this 1943 John Deere tractor instead. Enlisting the help of local school children, Yon, and the kids, glued thousands of pieces of stained glass to the tractor which has now become a tourist attraction. The project was first started in early 2005 and completed in August, just in time for the annual Harvest Festival. Yon noted the only maintenance required is waterproofing every five years.
Housed in a historic school building, the Art Center in Ridge Spring is the center of the art community. The 1,900 square foot building was built sometime in the early 1900s and serves as a gallery space as well as learning facility. Classes are held here featuring lessons in watercolors, oil painting, photography, mosaics, gourd art, pottery, and more.
Downtown Ridge Spring’s East Main Street (pictured below) features storefronts that once thrived during the town’s railroad era. Today, several businesses continue to thrive offering retail and community resources. A public library, bank, police station, post office, pharmacy and thrift store are just a few of the offerings. The building that now houses the library also recently served as a visitor’s center.
Ridge Spring – Main Street
(Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent)
(Ann Helms of Spartanburg, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent)
More Photos of Ridge Spring