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Discover the Small Town Charms of Gaffney

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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Located near Cowpens National Battlefield and a short drive from Kings Mountain National Military Park, Gaffney has long attracted visitors looking to learn more about the two major battles that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War.

It was at Kings Mountain on Oct. 7, 1780, that patriot forces enjoyed their first pivotal victory of the Southern Campaign. A few months later, an army of Continentals and backwoods militia soundly whipped the much-vilified British general Banastre Tarleton in Cowpens, setting forth a chain of events that would lead to the defeat and surrender of the British at Yorktown.

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is another one of Gaffney’s Revolutionary War attractions. The 330-mile commemorative motor route, which traces the path used by patriot militia during the Kings Mountain campaign, runs through the town, ending at the military park.

You can find a permanent display chronicling the town’s Revolutionary War legacy in the Gaffney Visitors Center and Art Gallery. The building itself—originally constructed as a federal post office—is a historic treasure with arched windows, ornate oil-burning lanterns, 18-foot vaulted ceilings, and terrazzo floors inlaid with rare, locally mined Gaffney marble.

Constructed in 1913, the building is part of the Gaffney Commercial Historic District, one of three nationally certified historic districts in the Upstate town. Within the central business district, you’ll also find the log home and trading post of town founder Michael Gaffney. The Irish immigrant built his store in 1803 at the intersection of a Native American trail and wagon road.

As the settlement flourished, a health resort was built near the Limestone Springs. The 1835 hotel was later converted into a college for women and now houses the administrative offices of Limestone College. Nine classically inspired buildings on the college campus make up the Limestone Springs Historic District.

The third historic district encompasses an 18-block residential neighborhood featuring stately homes constructed during the boom period at the turn of the century.

While Gaffney’s Revolutionary War legacy and historical landmarks continue to bring tourists to town, two of its modern-day attractions have been getting all the press in recent years.

Everyone wants to see the famed “Peachoid,” a 135-foot water tank built to look like a peach—stem, leaves, cleft and all. The million-gallon tank stands at the eastern end of the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (S.C. Highway 11) and can be seen from I-85.

For fans of the Netflix political saga “House of Cards,” the fictional gravesite of Frank Underwood, the show’s ruthless protagonist, is a must-see monument. You’ll find the granite headstone in the city’s Oakland Cemetery.

Visitors also come to town to shop at Gaffney Outlet Marketplace, featuring 75 name brand and designer stores, among them Michael Kors, Kate Spade New York, Under Armour and Adidas.

In July, the big draw in town is the annual South Carolina Peach Festival, offering multiple weekends of activities, including a mud bog, parade, beauty pageant, car and bike show, road race and carnival.

History buff or not, you’ll enjoy visiting Gaffney, a small town with plenty of Southern charm.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.