To a lover of history, Ridge Spring holds an irresistible charm. Here is a community that was settled over two hundred and fifty years ago and is still populated to some extent by descendants of the original families. Ten generations have lived side by side, loved the same soil and have offered their loyalty to the Ridge.
Prior to being settled by those who received land grants in the mid 1700s, The Ridge area was occupied by the Native Americans who maintained pristine beauty of the area. Their presence here is evidenced by arrowheads and spearheads found in freshly plowed fields of the farmlands. Through generations it has been told that the Native Americans chipped out the basin in the rock into which flows the water form the spring for which the town was named.
The first “settlement” was made about one mile east of the present town of Ridge Spring where the public wagon road to Orangeburg forked off of the road to the Congarees (the Columbia Road). On an early map this is referred to as The Ridge. A tavern was located where the Sweeney House once stood.
On November 29, 1752, John Carlin was granted 200 acres situated on a branch of the Little Saludy River called Clouds Creek. This was just North of present day Ridge Spring. Also, on October 3, 1758 William Watson was granted 300 acres of land on a branch of the Little Saluda. His son, Captain Micheal Watson, fell in action against the British in the Revolutionary War at Dean's Swamp, Orangeburg District in 1781. A large granite rock monument stands on Main Street in his memory On May 21, 1791 President George Washington stopped, dined and spent the night at the Michael Watson house with Micheal Watson's widow Martha and his children. The house stood just out of the present town limits near the cemetery.
In the decades which followed beautiful plantation houses were built throughout the area. Cotton began as an important crop in the early 1800s. Vast acreages were grown for many generations and transported by wagon to Hamburg, S. C. for shipment by barge to Savannah, Georgia. Many of these lovely homes have survived and grace the countryside.
When the railroad was constructed through The Ridge area in 1869 a water tank was built near a good supply of water. Hence the earlier “settlement” moved to the town' present location where the train stopped for water. Stores, homes, and hotels began to be built around this train stop by the water tank and depot. The town was named Ridge Spring for the natural raised ridge of the land and for the spring of pure water which provided delicious drinking water.
From early days the cultivation of the peach seemed particularly suited to the soil and climate of The Ridge. Through the years other crops such as corn, asparagus, soybeans, cotton and numerous more have been grown in the fertile soil of Ridge Spring. It is a peaceful sight to see herds of cattle grazing in the open pastures and timberlands.
First incorporated on December 23, 1882, the town held a Centennial Celebration in the Fall of 1982. From this celebration grew the annual Harvest Festival each October. The charm and gracious southern living of this agrarian community continues today for those who call “the Ridge” their home and for those who are fortunate enough to visit.
By: Converse Cone