North AND South

It seemed like a typographical error, a town named North. That shouldn’t be an issue ordinarily although it looks very strange when the town falls within the boundaries of South Carolina, making it North, South Carolina. I swear I didn’t know about this video before I found North on a map completely by accident. Give it a watch. The geography portion lasts until around the fourth minute and it’s pretty entertaining. I laughed more than a few times.

The part about North being south of the South Carolina capital and southeast of Due West is priceless.

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Indeed, North is south of the South Carolina capital (Columbia) and southeast of Due West

Clearly the Town of North isn’t north. In fact, just eyeballing it, North appears to be very near the center of the state. Nonetheless the town seems to appreciate its unusual name and even uses the motto, "All points lead to North, South Carolina." So what is going on here? Certainly it’s not about the geography of the location. I’m going to imagine that most readers have already figured out a plausible theory. The obvious explanation would be that the town was named for someone with the surname North. That is indeed the case. As noted in the town history,

The Town of North was founded ~ as many small towns in South Carolina ~ as a result of the railroad. John F. North, George W. Pou, and Sampson A. Livingston donated 100 acres to create a rail depot and town on the South Bound Railroad Company’s new rail line. Mr. North was influential in bringing the railroad to the area, so the town is named after him ~ North, South Carolina.

That same webpage includes a photograph of a historical marker, also noting that John F. North was a Confederate veteran. That must have been an interesting situation. I’d imagine someone named North fighting for the South might have found himself on the receiving end of at least a little teasing or hazing. The only thing worse, I suppose, might have been someone named Yankee or Lincoln.

View North, South Carolina in a larger map

The town shape also fascinates me for the obvious reason. North is primarily a circle with a diameter of exactly one mile. That is a shape found commonly a little farther to the south in the adjacent state of Georgia. I’m intrigued to uncover at least this one instance in South Carolina. I’ll have to see if I can figure out whether this is common to the region or whether it’s a coincidence. Two knobs also become visible. Generally this happens later in the evolution of a town as it annexes adjacent parcels. The northern knob — which I suppose one could call northernmost North — seems to include a used car dealership. The eastern knob incorporates a few extra houses.

Notice the large runway just outside of town. That’s the Air Force’s "North Auxiliary Airfield." with a 12,000 foot runway. Compare that to the diameter of the town! It’s operated by the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron in support of "C-17 Globemaster III aircrew training and proficiency training." C-17’s are very large airplanes used for military transport. The airfield isn’t one of the better-known facilities though. As the website notes, "the only permanently assigned personnel at North Auxiliary Airfield are roughly one dozen firefighters and one civilian grounds keeper."

That’s a lot more than I expected after spotting an oddly-named town along some random point on a map.