Visitors to York County, South Carolina can say “Tanake”(tah-NAH-ke) to guides at the Catawba Cultural Center, located in the town of Rock Hill. That’s “hello” in the language of the Catawba Indians, specifically the Ye Iswa (EES-wah) tribe, or “The People of the River,” who invite everyone to visit and learn Native American ways.
York County, located between the Broad and Catawba Rivers in the South Carolina Piedmont, was the home of several Native American tribes, including the Catawba, before European settlement began in the 1750s. Located within the only remaining Reservation Schoolhouse, the Cultural Center includes a crafts store, featuring hand-crafted Catawba pottery, as well as educational exhibits, and a picturesque half-mile walking trail along an 18th century wagon trail to the scenic banks of the Catawba River.
Located in the north-central section of South Carolina, York County’s population is 226,073; it’s the second-largest county in the Charlotte metro area, and its county seat is York.
The Catawba Power Company’s dam and power plant, completed in 1904, was an enormously important engineering accomplishment. The Catawba Power Plant, which became Duke Power Company, sparked the industrialization of the valley and the growth of the textile industry.
By the 1950s, the textile industry was the largest employer in the county. Railroads and textiles also spurred the development of Rock Hill and Fort Mill, which are now the largest cities in the York County. Since the decline of textiles in the late 20th century, the economy has shifted to finances, high technology, services and heritage tourism. The county’s close proximity of Charlotte, North Carolina has created a substantial commuter population.
History, quality arts and entertainment offerings, sports facilities and tremendous natural beauty all attract a large number of visitors. Attractions include the Museum of York County, featuring a new Naturalist Center modeled after the one belonging to the Smithsonian Institution Naturalist Center at the National Museum of Natural History. The Museum of Western York County sits in a rural setting on the edge of the town of Sharon and offers the visitors an insight into local history, culture and heritage.
The median income for a household in York County is $44,539. The county operates four public school districts, as well as hosting of York Technical College, Clinton Junior College, and Winthrop University, all located in Rock Hill.