They are just a little way down the road from us - two large fields, one on each side of the road. I wasn't sure what was in it when we first moved here, (I'm used to cows and corn, and more recently, sugar cane) but as it turns out, they were cotton fields, and there is a lot of cotton in this town.
Driving out towards Williston and White Pond, I noticed at least one historical site sign of a plantation that was up ahead. And if you talk to Dean at the donut shop, he'll give you a pretty good idea of some of the history of the area.
Its one place I've yet to actually visit, an old plantation. Many of the original ones are either gone -the casualties of war, are now equestrian centers or museums.
Though, these fields, and there are still plenty around, line the road, white buds of cotton standing out from the sea of leafy green. But cotton in this area did have its close call, during the civil war.
Cotton began its life in this area in 1845, when a cotton mill was built not far from Aiken, by a man called William Gregg, in a village called Graniteville, which as you may have guessed, is named aptly for the granite that was quarried there. During the war, it was very nearly burned to the ground, which was the fate of a few towns in the area as the Union army marched through. Though, as the story goes, the Confederate army was larger than expected, and instead of burning the ground, the Union army retreated.
That mill survived and it still being used since the first cloth came off the loom in 1848. And it seems cotton is thriving here.
Though I have to admit, I was starting to wonder when they would actually harvest it. I received my answer about 2 weeks or so ago, they wait until the plants have died down before stripping the cotton. The plants are then plowed back into the ground for fertilizer.
It was surprising to still see a few flowers on the plants when I first visited the field, as most of the cotton pods had already opened.
How much cotton actually comes from those pods is pretty impressive too. The cotton ball from the boll (yep, boll) are deceivingly large! Each boll has approximately 8-9 seeds from which linseed oil can be made, or they are used for the next crop.
Cotton, and an interesting history. Though having investigated cotton, it did bring up an interesting history on a few other towns near Aiken. I now have to go and research White Pond. I had wondered what that very old overgrown building was as we drove past...