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Introduction-York County an Artists Tour

A word by Jennifer Hamilton author.  


Where we live has never been without history, despite our rush to change things. York County was incorporated and settled by people of Scotch-Irish descent; moving south to escape the French-Indian wars in Virginia in the 1600s'. York became the official name in 1785.  The forty-two paintings and the accompanying narrative tour will give you more than a passing knowledge of the 'upcountry' of South Carolina.  


York County is 685 square miles. The total population in 1995 was approximately  132,000.  


Eileen Nichols and I (Jenny Hamilton), like many 'plein air', painters before us roam the countryside looking for the sites we feel have a special aesthetic or as artists say- 'speak to us'. the silent beckoning of a curve ahead or a new side road to explore has yielded us rich material for our paintings.  During the course of this project we found old family run stores, (one in business since before York was a county), ranches and farms still worked by descendants of early settlers, old mansions that used to be boarding houses for weary train travelers (notable because passenger trains no longer offer transportation anywhere in the county) in the early part of the twentieth century, small towns begun the early 1800s that still hold much of that charm, and communities which were once actual destinations that have all but disappeared and left only a ghostly shell. Much of our tour follows the paths of early settlers (highway 49 and highway 160, for example), some take a back road or two, some lead to newer settlements.  Not all of our attention has been on finding historical connections.


 About this Project: Our first intention was to paint what we liked- basically, we were just concerned with representing the now. Eileen Nichols and I wee both experienced artists and began this project as a 'what if" exercise. What if we painted one hundred paintings in a year. Neither of us had accomplished this task at this time.  It was 1994. We began this project in March and completed our last painting in February of 1995. Not every painting made the final tour as we narrowed our sites down to forty-two.  We also limited our painting time to one day a week.  


Not every painting was done 'on location' but most were.  In the beginning, we spent a lot of time repainting our work. The more we painted the better we got and the fewer pieces were repainted in the studio.  There were times, however when we did not have enough time to complete the work on site.  It was finished in the studio within a few days.  Finally, time got to us, the weather changes.  My feeling was that if my fingers could not bend to hold a brush, it was time to wait for spring.    




Facts about sites were documented from "A city Without CobWebs" a historical account of Rock Hill, also newspaper clippings and microfiche at the York County Library. 

A local recollection from owners and decedents of location. 


Taking the Tour

The tour makes a complete circle around the County. The paintings are listed in sequence beginning in Rock Hill, South Carolina and ending there.  

The driving directions will take you on back roads, etc. You will need a full tank of gas when you begin, and a picknic lunch.  All roads are or were passable.  Some roads in western York County are wild and wooly, but you do not need a 4-wheel drive.  Estimated driving time fourteen hours.  

However, a lot has changed in some parts of the county. Updates were made in 2010 and will be included, some of the sites no longer exist.  Many do, however, and a comparison to today will make the tour all the more a snapshot from the past.



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