kids encyclopedia robot

Oconee County, South Carolina facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Oconee County
Oconee County Courthouse, Walhalla
Oconee County Courthouse, Walhalla
Official seal of Oconee County
Map of South Carolina highlighting Oconee County
Location within the U.S. state of South Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting South Carolina
South Carolina's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  South Carolina
Founded 1868
Seat Walhalla
Largest city Seneca
 • Total 674 sq mi (1,750 km2)
 • Land 626 sq mi (1,620 km2)
 • Water 47 sq mi (120 km2)  7.0%%
 • Total 74,273
 • Estimate 
 • Density 110.20/sq mi (42.55/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Oconee County is the westernmost county in the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 74,273. Its county seat is Walhalla and its largest city is Seneca. Oconee County is included in the Seneca, SC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC Combined Statistical Area. South Carolina Highway 11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway, begins in southern Oconee County at Interstate Highway 85 at the Georgia state line.


Oconee County takes its name from the Cherokee word "Ae-quo-nee" meaning "land beside the water." Oconee was a local Cherokee town that was situated on the main British/Cherokee trading path between Charleston and the Mississippi River in the early 18th century. Its geographic position later placed it at the intersection of the trading path and the Cherokee treaty boundary of 1777. In 1792, a frontier outpost was built by the SC State Militia near the town site and was named Oconee Station. When Oconee County was created out of the Pickens District in 1868 it was named for Oconee Town.

  • 1780s - The rare wildflower, Oconee Bell, first recorded by André Michaux.
  • 1780s - After the American 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.
  • 1868 - Oconee County was formed when Pickens County was divided. Walhalla was made the county seat.
  • 1870 - Air line Railroad built 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.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 674 square miles (1,750 km2), of which 626 square miles (1,620 km2) is land and 47 square miles (120 km2) (7.0%) 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 and 1963. 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.

Oconee County is in the Savannah River basin.

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Sumter National Forest (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 10,536
1880 16,256 54.3%
1890 18,687 15.0%
1900 23,634 26.5%
1910 27,337 15.7%
1920 30,117 10.2%
1930 33,368 10.8%
1940 36,512 9.4%
1950 39,050 7.0%
1960 40,204 3.0%
1970 40,728 1.3%
1980 48,611 19.4%
1990 57,494 18.3%
2000 66,215 15.2%
2010 74,273 12.2%
2020 (est.) 80,785 8.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 74,273 people, 30,676 households, and 21,118 families living in the county. The population density was 118.6 inhabitants per square mile (45.8/km2). There were 38,763 housing units at an average density of 61.9 per square mile (23.9/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 87.8% white, 7.6% black or African American, 0.6% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 2.3% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 4.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry,

Of the 30,676 households, 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.8% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.2% were non-families, and 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.86. The median age was 43.4 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,266 and the median income for a family was $52,332. Males had a median income of $40,943 versus $29,841 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,055. About 11.8% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.7% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.

2020 census

Oconee County racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 64,696 82.3%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 5,119 6.51%
Native American 176 0.22%
Asian 591 0.75%
Pacific Islander 16 0.02%
Other/Mixed 3,625 4.61%
Hispanic or Latino 4,384 5.58%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 78,607 people, 31,530 households, and 21,214 families residing in the county.




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

In popular culture

The Oconee region is mentioned in the song "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" by the indie rock group the Decemberists, on their 2006 album The Crane Wife. The reference is "When I was a girl how the hills of Oconee made a seam to hem me in."

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Oconee (Carolina del Sur) para niños

kids search engine
Oconee County, South Carolina Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.