The Steeplechase Capital of the World sign caught my eye as I drove into Camden, SC (population 6,682). When I drove by their horse facilities, I could understand how they could hold such an event but why did steeplechasing happen to land in this town, was my question.
Nelson Lindsay, who is head of ED for the county and a lifelong resident of the town explained to me, “In the early 1900s, this was a winter haven for many wealthy northerners. They came down with their horses and used to have horse races, fox hunts, polo matches and steeplechases. We had three resorts in town back then.”
Harry Woodward, who made his fortune with Jello, started the steeplechase facility. One of the DuPont heirs who bought it from Woodward, left the vast facility in trust to the state of SC for use in horse related activities. Today they host the Carolina Cup, which dates back to the 1930s, and the Colonial Cup. Lindsay told me, “The Carolina Cup is called the largest outdoor cocktail party in the world, with over 80,000 people attending.”
Camden impressed me with its historical background, having hosted two Revolutionary War Battles, quaint downtown and large historical district of 60 houses. It also has a very vibrant industrial base that is diversifying from textile dependency to a more expanded one (Target built a 1.4 million sf DC with 800 employees in 2002). They are developing their third industrial park, after virtually filling their first two in the past decade. It is the in the 7th fastest growing county in the state.