In 1730, colonial Governor Robert Johnson ordered the establishment of eleven townships across the backcountry of South Carolina. The township located on the Wateree River was surveyed in 1733 and named Fredericksburg. Originally the concentrated town area was intended for the area around present day Cantey Lane, but that site was never settled. The earliest permanent settlers, a group of Quakers, located around present day Lugoff near the river in the 1750s. When Joseph Kershaw moved to the area in 1758, he established a store, saw and gristmills, indigo works, a distillery, and a tobacco warehouse at what he called Pine Tree Hill.
Kershaw laid out the first town plan on land around Big and Little Pine Tree Creeks, where Historic Camden is located today. The earliest plan dates to 1774. Kershaw's settlement become known as Camden in 1768, in honor of Charles Pratt, Lord Camden, an advocate of the American colonists' rights. Camden was the site of two Revolutionary War Battles, the Battle of Camden and the Battle of Hobkirk Hill.
After the Reconstruction Period, Camden evolved into a tourist mecca for Northerners and mid-Westerners seeking a warmer winter climate. Camden had three large tourist hotels and many smaller boarding houses. The "Hotel Era" lasted from 1882 through the years of World War II. Camden developed as an equine center during these years - Steeplechase races, polo, and horse shows became hallmarks of Camden's style. To learn more about Camden, visit the Camden Archives and Museum.