Photo ofLukáš Lehotský/ UnsplashonUnsplash

Ellenton was a town in South Carolina, on the border between Barnwell and Aiken counties. The city was founded in 1870.

The city was acquired by the US Atomic Energy Commission in 1950 as part of a site for the development of the Savannah River Plant nuclear power plant. All homes and businesses were purchased and two new towns, New Ellenton, South Carolina, and Jackson, South Carolina, were formed.

The plant was located near Upper Three Runs Creek, Four Mile Branch and the current CSX railroad and SC Highway 125. In the 1950s, SC Highway 125 was US Highway 278.

The settlement came into existence with the construction of the Port Royal and Augusta Railroad, later renamed the Charleston and Western Carolina Railway. CSX Transportation took over operations. It went through the plantation of Robert Jefferson Dunbar. Part of his property was used for the city, the station and the railway.

Ellenton Map (1949)Photo ofEllenton, South Carolina/Wikipedia

Ellenton becomes a nuclear power plant

The United States Atomic Energy Commission and EI du Pont de Nemours Company announced on November 28, 1950 that the Savannah River Plant would be built on approximately 300 square miles of Aiken, Barnwell and Allendale counties in South Carolina.

The Savannah River Plant was built to produce tritium and plutonium for use in the H-bomb.

About 6,000 people and 6,000 graves were to be relocated. These included the incorporated parishes of Ellenton and Dunbarton, and the unincorporated settlements of Hawthorne, Meyers Mill, Robbins and Leigh. In this relatively poor rural area, African American farmers and sharecroppers made up a significant portion of the displaced.

The government bought or condemned their houses.

The majority of the population moved to the new town of New Ellenton, South Carolina, off US Highway 278, eight miles north. New Ellenton was developed to replace Ellenton. Some moved to the adjacent cities of Jackson, Beech Island, Aiken, and North Augusta, South Carolina; and Augusta, Georgia. Some people left the state.

The cobbled streets, curbs, driveways and sidewalks represent all that remains of the former city.

An annual gathering of former Ellenton residents began in 1973 and continues to this day.

View of the Savannah River Site from the International Space StationPhoto ofSavannah River Site/Wikipedia

Savannah River website

The Savannah River Site (SRS) is a US Department of Energy (DOE) reserve in the state of South Carolina.

The site was established in the 1950s to refine nuclear material for use in atomic bombs. It has a land area of ​​310 square miles and employs over 10,000 people.

A substantial amount of farmland, the towns of Ellenton and Dunbarton and many smaller villages including Meyers Mill, Leigh, Robbins and Hawthorne were purchased under Eminent Domain and the 310 square mile property became the Savannah River Site overseen by the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States.

University of Georgia biologists led by Professor Eugene Odum established the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) in 1951 to conduct ecological studies of local flora and fauna, and crop production began.

Savannah River Site (1982)Photo ofSavannah River Site/Wikipedia

About Ellenton

Ellenton was incorporated as a town in 1880. It was mainly an agricultural, trading and sawmill town. The city fell into disrepair during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the fall in cotton prices after World War I.

Around 760 people lived in Ellenton in the early 1950s. There were 190 homes, around 30 shops, five churches, two schools including Ellenton High School, a cotton ginning facility, a city hall and jail, and the train station.

South Carolina’s first automatic telephone dialing system was in Ellenton. After the Great Depression’s bank collapse, Ellenton set up South Carolina’s first cash depository.


Ellenton, South Carolina/Wikipedia

Savannah River Site/ Wikipedia*