Located between the Lumber River to the east and the Great Pee Dee River to the west, Dillon County holds a time-honored place in the history of South Carolina.
Once known as the "Golden Land" thanks to its many tobacco farms, it is often cited as the home of the kitschy, roadside attraction known as "South of the Border," which lies in the small Dillon County town of Hamer.
Founded in 1949, the rest stop and amusement park was originally a beer stand just south of the border of three dry North Carolina counties, hence its name. In its heyday, it was a boon to the rural area's economy and the largest employer in Dillon County.
The City of Dillon was established when two enterprising men - James Dillon and his son, Thomas - acquired 50 acres of land and turned them over to the Florence Railroad Company. The railroad then ran their tracks through a new town that would be named, of course, Dillon.
That was in 1886. The building of a railroad depot brought settlers who built the town. In 1888, Dillon was chartered by the state legislature.
Today, the area along Dillon's Main Street, radiating out from the original train depot, is a National Register commercial district. Passenger trains have trundled through Dillon since 1904, with Amtrak's Palmetto line still making daily stops in town.
Just south of Dillon down U.S. 301 is the picturesque town of Latta, the origins of which date back to the early days of the railroad. Latta is the site of the Dillon County Museum is located. The museum, 101 S. Marion Street, is the restored office of Dr. Henry Edwards and contains items from his practice and other pieces of historical significance. The museum is open daily from 1:30 to 4:30 and by appointment.
Across the street from the museum is the restored Bethea Post Office and General Store, which dates back to 1888. It's named for the town's first postmaster, Robert Bethea, a black merchant who was appointed by President Grover Cleveland. You can learn more about these points of historical interest here.
Just behind the post office is another restored structure, the Vidalia Academy, a one-room school house that was originally located on a nearby farm. Display boards outside of both structures tell their stories.
If you're interested in staying overnight, The Columns Bed & Breakfast Inn, a restored 1903 Greek Revival mansion at 601 E. Main St., is the perfect place to slow down and get pampered. A full gourmet breakfast is a signature perk of this stately inn.
And in Latta, there's Abingdon Manor, located at 307 Church St. Built in 1902 in the Greek Revival style, the AAA four-diamond country inn first served as a private residence. Now, it is a stunning property welcoming overnight guests. It is also famous for its award-winning, upscale dining room, which has limited availability for its pre-fix dinners with advance reservations.
Both inns reflect a bygone era with the addition of modern creature comforts for discerning Dillon County visitors.