Place:Hamburg, Aiken, South Carolina, United States


Coordinates33.467°N 81.95°W
Located inAiken, South Carolina, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

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The ghost town of Hamburg, South Carolina, was once a thriving upriver market located in Edgefield District (now Aiken County). It was founded by Henry Shultz in 1821, across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia, in direct competition with that city (Cordle 1940:82). In its heyday, 60,000 bales of cotton worth $2,000,000 were brought by wagon to Hamburg each year (Chapman 1897:237). This cotton continued by pole boat or steam boat to the ports of Charleston or Savannah for subsequent shipment to manufacturers in New England or Europe.

During his American tour as 'Guest of the Nation', the Marquis de Lafayette visited Hamburg on March 24, 1825 (Cashin 1980:86). Hamburg received another boost when it became the western terminus of the South Carolina Railroad. This was the world's first railroad in the modern pattern. Providing scheduled steam service over 136 miles of line from Charleston to Hamburg, it was the world's longest at its completion in 1833 (Derrick 1930:58-59).

With the Augusta Canal (1848) and general expansion of railroads in the 1850s, strenuous overland hauls to Hamburg became unnecessary and the famous wagon traffic declined (Chapman 1897:238). Hamburg became a ghost town by the time of the Civil War (Chapman 1897:20).

Hamburg was repopulated and governed by freedmen until the Hamburg Massacre of July 8, 1876, after which the town declined for good (Vandervelde 1999:154). Augusta began construction of a river levee after a 1911 flood (Cashin 1980:210), but Hamburg remained unprotected, and particularly disastrous floods finally forced out the last residents in 1929 . There are no visible remains of the original Town of Hamburg.

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