Darlington is built on legends. Legend has it that Darlington farmland is so fertile, farmers once sold it by the wagonful. Regardless of whether or not it's true, each fall the fields lining the roads are white with cotton.
Another legend tells of Harold Brasington and his dream to make Darlington the center of the stock car universe. Though mocked at the time, Brasington refused to give up. He won the land for the racetrack on a play of cards and began building Darlington Raceway, the country's oldest paved superspeedway. Nowadays Darlington Raceway, with it's egg-shaped track, is known as the track too tough to tame. Twice a year, the sounds of racing engines fill the air and thousands of NASCAR fans descend on Darlington County. The Southern 500 has become a race that makes history and builds heroes.
Yet another legend speaks of a young Northern architect, J.L. Klickner, who was asked to design a house for Colonel Samuel Hugh Wildes in 1857. When the Civil War erupted, Mr. Klickner joined the northern forces and was sent to South Carolina. In Darlington, the Northern forces were about to burn down a house when one member of the unit, Mr. Klickner, suddenly recognized his own creation. He was able to intercede and the house was saved. Nowadays the house still stands, tall and proud. It is undergoing an extensive renovation to bring it back to the showcase it once was.
Perhaps the best legends are the personal stories of the people that live in Darlington. These fine folk epitomize Southern Hospitality and always seem to make visitors feel welcome.
Agriculture, racing, history and hospitality are the cornerstones of Darlington. Visitors can be sure that they will experience Southern Hospitality at its best while making memories for a lifetime.
Carved from a cotton field on the edge of town, Darlington Raceway opened in 1950 as stock car racing's first superspeedway. Darlington resident Harold Brasington, in an effort to preserve a neighbor's minnow pond, built the track in an egg-shape. As a result, the narrow racing groove and disproportionately banked curves have created one of the most demanding ovals in NASCAR. Fans and drivers hail Darlington Raceway as the track "too tough to tame," the most unpredictable and toughest in NASCAR racing. The 1.366 mile oval is host to two major racing weekends each year. Contact Darlington Raceway for ticket information.
This beautiful outdoor area houses the Winston Walk of Fame, honoring NASCAR stock car drivers who have won at Darlington Raceway. Visitors can compare their hands with those of NASCAR greats like as Neil Bonnett, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Harry Gant and Richard Petty who have left their handprints in the cement of the Lane.
In 1985 Darlington County celebrated its Bicentennial and unveiled the large mural painted by muralist, Blue Sky. The mural was based on a series of postcards, circa 1909/1935, depicting the of the Public Square. Now faded, it is slated to be restored in the summer of 2001.
The Darlington County Historic Commission
The building, built as one of Franklin D. Roosevelt's W.P.A. projects, was built in 1937 as a jail. Nowadays it serves as home to the county's archives and extensive genealogical records. The Commission walls are adorned with rare photographs of the area along with other artifacts. Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm. Admission: Free.
J.C. Daniel Center for the Performing Arts
The current building was dedicated to a long-time superintendent John Carlisle-J.C.-Daniel in 1945. Today the J.C. Daniel Center is an active community arts center and hosts several performances each year.
Historic Homes & Buildings of Darlington
From St. John's Elementary School (1818) to the Samuel Wilds House, Darlington's history can be told in the many historic churches, homes, and buildings around the town. Visitors can drive through the historic district or tour a historic tour. During the holidays, many of the private homes are open for a Christmas tour.
National Motorsports Press Association Stock Car Hall of Fame / Joe Weatherly Museum
The museum, located on the doorstep of Darlington Raceway, houses an extensive collection of historical stock cars and stock car memorabilia. A small theater provides footage of some of Darlington's - and NASCAR's most exciting moments. Kiosks provide information about the drivers that made their mark on the track and on the sport. One of the most amazing displays is the 1991 Chevy Lumina (or what's left of it) that Darrel Waltrip crashed and rolled. Hours: Monday - Saturday, 9:00am - 5:00pm; Sunday, 1:00pm - 5:00pm. Admission: $3.00 Handicap accessible.
The 64-acre preserve is located on the edge of Darlington's city limits. The park boasts a picnic area, swamp, cultured garden and a variety of wildlife. Williamson Park is a natural habitat for at least 230 species of plant life and a multitude of wildlife species including raccoons, possums, beavers, and several dozen species of birds. Open all year, dawn to dusk.
Johannes Kolb Archeology Dig
Archaeologists believe they have found the site of the 1730's homestead of Johannes Kolb, a German immigrant and the head of the modern Kolb, Kulp, and Culp families. The scientists return to the dig site, which is located in the Great Pee Dee Heritage Preserve, every year in March. The first Saturday in March is Public Day. On this day, the artifacts are displayed, archaeologists are on hand to answer questions, and re-enactors provide demonstrations. Over the past several years, archaeologists have uncovered a variety of artifacts including a 16,000 year old spear tip. Virtually every known prehistoric culture in South Carolina has been documented at this one site. Admission is free. Call Darlington County Tourism Office for exact dates and times.
Darlington-native Buddy Johnson was a bandleader and musician who toured Europe with the Cotton Club Revue before returning to NY and forming the Buddy Johnson Orchestra. His sister, Ella, soon joined him with her distinctive vocals. At its peak, the Buddy Johnson Orchestra had 17 members and was such a regular at the Savoy Ballroom in NY, that Buddy earned the title, The King of the Savoy Ballroom. Buddy was also a skilled composer whose songs (Since I Fell For You) were covered by a variety of artists. Buddy Johnson was inducted into the SC Music Hall of Fame in 2001. A display of Buddy and Ella Johnson memorabilia and music is available for viewing by appointment at the Cultural Realism Complex. Contact the Darlington County Tourism Office for more information.
Great Pee Dee Heritage Preserve
A 2,275-acre preserve that provides a habitat for four endangered species and many common native species. Look for river otters, beavers, bobcats, gray foxes, wood ducks, wild turkeys, osprey, hawks and four species of herons. Seven miles of river snake through the preserve. Open dawn until dusk.
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