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10 Historical Sites Near Lake Hartwell You Have To See

Lake Hartwell is filled with recreational fun and plenty of water activities, but it’s also filled with history. In fact, some of the nation’s most interesting historical sites lie within miles of the lake.

Here are 10 of the best historical sites around Lake Hartwell.

The Best Historical Sites Around Lake Hartwell

1. Take in the Georgia Guidestones (UPDATE: Guidestones were destroyed in 2022)

1031 Guide Stones Road, Elberton, GA, 30635

Georgia Guidestones in Elberton Ga

Ponder the meaning behind the Georgia Guidestones. source

If you have always longed to see Stonehenge, here’s your chance–no plane trip required! A short drive from Lake Hartwell lies this fascinating site.

The mysterious (and controversial) text inscribed upon the stones has ten guidelines written in eight different languages. There is a capsule located underneath the Guidestones, but no one knows what it contains—or who put it there.

2. Stop by the Center of the World

3 miles south of Hartwell on US 29 at Marsh Lane.

Cherokee center of the world at Fabritex in Hartwell

The monument to the Cherokee Center of the World sits next to hwy 29 in front of the Fabritex plant.

Did you know that the center of the world is located just minutes from Lake Hartwell in Hartwell, Georgia? Okay, well maybe not according to our modern world. However, a historical monument and marker are placed where the Cherokee declared the center of their world to be. Trails used to go in every direction from this central hub, and it was also a popular spot to mingle and meet.

3. Be Wow-ed by Hartwell Dam

5625 Anderson Highway, Hartwell, GA 30643

Lake Hartwell Facts - Hartwell dam is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers

Hartwell Dam taken January 2016

One mile away from the visitor center is the Hartwell Dam and Powerplant, constructed in 1962. It was built to harvest hydropower and navigate the stream down for flood control originally, but now also offers recreation and fish/wildlife management. The dam is currently closed to the public, but you can view the outside. You can also request a group tour, but availability is limited.

4. Step Back in Time at Hagood Mill

138 Hagood Mill Road, Pickens, SC 29671

Hagood Mill

There are several music and holiday festivals throughout the year at Hagood Mill.

Hagood Mill serves as an excellent family outing, where everyone will enjoy learning about how life was different years ago. A working gristmill allows people to watch grain being produced, and there are also demonstrations for blacksmithing, cotton ginning, milling and more. If that wasn’t enough educational fun, visitors can even learn about moonshining, weaving, bee-keeping, chair caning, open-hearth cooking and much more. Monthly music festivals on the 3rd Saturday of each month will showcase talented bluegrass and blues musicians.

5. Walk Through Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge

Franklin Springs, Georgia 

historical cromers mill covered bridge

You have to see the inside of this covered bridge built in 1907. source

This 110-foot bridge is constructed with a lattice design and was built in 1907, by James M. Hunt. The Cromer family operated a woolen mill at the site, as well as a cotton gin, flour mill, and a sawmill. While operations ceased in 1943, the area is still a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to take in a bit of history.

6. Tour the Ashtabula and Woodburn historic homes

2725 Old Greenville Hwy, Central, SC and 130 History Lane, Pendleton, SC

1900s home in Pendleton sc

Tour the history in Pendleton, SC. source

Both of these historic houses have been restored and are now owned by the Pendleton Historic Foundation. Visitors of all ages will enjoy strolling through the properties.

The two homes were owned by several different people and passed down from generation to generation. Each served as a plantation with households that were extremely influential in the area during their time.

While there are tours seasonally on Sunday afternoons, private tours may be arranged with reservations at any time.

7. Visit the Old Stone Church

101 Stone Circle, Clemson, SC, 29631

Old stone church Clemson SC

Tour a centuries old church in Clemson, SC. source

There’s lots to do in Clemson, and if you love old churches you have to stop by this one. This beautiful church was built in 1802, with a neat stacked-stone exterior. This building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and still serves an important role in the community. Weddings, church services, funerals, and other gatherings are held here to this day. Besides the building, the cemetery grounds are worth exploring. Notable figures such as Andrew Pickens and Robert Anderson are buried here along with patriots, pioneers of industry, soldiers and more.

8. Interpret Symbols at Hagood Creek Petroglyph Site

138 Hagood Mill Road, Pickens, South Carolina

Hagood Mill Petrogylphs

Admission is free to this incredible historic site. The site features a rock covered with 32 carvings, 18 of which are human figures. This fascinating site can be viewed in the building, where a climate-controlled viewing room was built over the petroglyph site. Outside the building lies another amazing artifact: a soapstone boulder has two carved bowls shaped into it by Native Americans over 5,000 years ago. Don’t miss it!

9. Visit the Benjamin E Mays Historic site

229 N. Hospital Street, Greenwood, South Carolina 29649

Benjamin E Mays historical site.

Tour the house and grounds at Benjamin Mays historical preservation site. source

Benjamin Mays was a Baptist minister and educator who mentored several influential civil rights activists including Martin Luther King, Jr. He was born into poverty but worked his way through college and advanced degrees to become president at Morehouse College in 1940. His birth home was moved to this location on the GLEAMNS campus in 2004 and restored to allow visitors and tourists. The site itself has historic significance as it was the location of the Brewer School and Hospital which date back to 1872.

10. View the Tree That Owns Itself

Dearing and Finley Street, Athens, Georgia, 30605

White oak tree in Athens, GA

The most independent tree in Georgia.

This beautiful white oak was a prized possession of its owner. In fact, William H. Jackson granted the tree autonomy when he died, along with the land within eight feet of the tree. Sadly, the original tree fell over in a windstorm in 1942. To preserve his wishes, residents took a seedling from the tree and planted it in the original spot. Happily, the offshoot is alive and thriving on the land.

Plan a trip to tour historical sites near Lake Hartwell

Which one of these incredible sites will you explore first? Make a few day trips out of the task and see them all! 

Visit these historical sites near Lake Hartwell.

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