Fort Mill takes its name from a colonial-era fort built by the British and a grist mill on nearby Steele Creek . The area has a rich history.
The Catawba Indians, the only surviving native American tribe in South Carolina, made their home here for many years. At one time, 30,000 Catawbas lived in the area. The oldest artifact dates to about 600 A.D.
Scotch-Irish settlers began arriving in the 1750s and 1760s and a small settlement soon developed. Both settlers and Catawbas used the ancient Nation Ford Road, which dates back to at least 1650, to travel and trade from Pennsylvania to Charles Towne (now Charleston, SC). Part of the trail can still be seen, especially within the Anne Springs Close Greenway.
Fort Mill grew rapidly in the later 1800s as textile mills were established. Highlights in Fort Mill's history include:
Several area sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
- Settlers opened a post office in 1820.
- Township name officially changed from Fort Hill to Fort Mill in 1830.
- A railroad trestle over the Catawba River, with a station in Fort Mill, was built in 1851.
- Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Cabinet passed through the area in their flight from Richmond in 1865. The last meeting of the full Confederate Cabinet was held at the White Homestead in Fort Mill.
- Fort Mill received its charter as a town in 1873.
- Samuel Elliott White founded the Fort Mill Manufacturing Company textile business in 1887. Now know as Springs Industries, it was the area's main employer for many generations.
- Fort Mill was the home of Elliott White Springs, World War I flying ace, author, industrialist and member of the SC Hall of Fame.
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- Springfield Plantation - built before 1806.
- White Homestead - built in 1831.
- Fort Mill Downtown Historic District - 17 buildings built between 1860 and 1940.
- Wilson House - c.1869.
- Banks Mack House - c.1871.
- John M. White House - built in 1872.
- Thornwell-Elliott House - c.1877.
- Mack-Belk House - c.1890.
- Mills House - built in 1906.
- National Guard Armory - built in 1938.
- Unity Presbyterian Church complex, including the church manse, Unity Cemetery and Old Unity Cemetery.
Fort Mill Today
Today, Fort Mill is a thriving community that retains its small-town atmosphere. Residents have the best of both worlds by living in a small town with cultural, shopping and other attractions of a large city just across the state line in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In 1990, there were 4,930 people living inside the town limits. In 1995, that number had increased to 5,700. The population is expected to reach 6,800 by 2000, and to double in 20 years. With the challenges of the coming growth, local leaders are busy making sure that Fort Mill retains its relaxed style, its small-town charm and its individuality.
Some of Fort Mill's advantages are:
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- Excellent employment opportunities with rapidly expanding industrial areas nearby.
- Good transportation facilities, including I-77, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (17 miles) Rock Hill Airport (five miles), Norfolk Southern Railway and numerous trucking companies.
- The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA) runs buses between Fort Mill and Rock Hill every day but Sunday. Several taxi services and cab companies are also available.
- Plentiful media sources, including numerous radio and TV stations, The Fort Mill Times, The Lancaster News.The Charlotte Observer, and The Herald based in Rock Hill.
- Five banks operate in Fort Mill with more on the way.
- Moderate climate that permits year-round outdoor activities, but four full seasons are enjoyed.
Schools in Fort Mill are a primary reason for the community's growth. They are fully accredited by the South Carolina State Department of Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This assures that each school's program meets state and regional standards established by these agencies. In addition, the education programs in these schools far exceed the standards in many areas.
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- Fort Mill schools rate at the top in South Carolina, based on faculty qualifications and salary, student achievement test scores, extracurricular participation and subsequent success in college.
- Educational institutions nearby are Winthrop University, a state-supported university, and York Technical College, both located in Rock Hill.
Fort Mill has a variety of local medical practices and health care services to fit anyone's need. And in nearby Rock Hill, Piedmont Medical Center, one of 22 centers in the Piedmont Health System, is a fully accredited hospital providing a full range of emergency, acute care and specialty services.
Piedmont's offerings include a coronary care unit, intensive care unit, cardiac catherization and surgery, orthopedic and plastic surgery, endoscopy, and OB/GYN services. The ambulance service for York County is owned by Healthcare System.
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Fort Mill is home to numerous diversions to help you unwind and recharge. From flying down a roller coaster to hiking through the woods, fun things to do abound in the community.
- Leroy Springs Recreation Complex is a comprehensive family health club that offers athletics and aquatics for children and adults, a workout center, fitness and wellness programs, child development, senior activities, and special events and classes.
- Paramount's Carowinds theme park offers roller coasters, Zoom Zone, and acres of rides and games. The Palladium amphitheater seats 13,000 for concerts and special events.
- Knights Stadium is where to cheer for the Charlotte Knights minor-league baseball team, an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
- Anne Springs Close Greenway, U.S. 21: More than 2,000 acres, hiking trails, horseback riding trails, fishing, camping and nature walks.
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