The town of Calhoun Falls is to be found on the shores of picturesque Lake Russell along the South Carolina-Georgia border. Construction of the Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake in the late 1970s was but the latest chapter in the history of Calhoun Falls. With the opening of the Calhoun Falls State Park in the 1980s and its expansion in the 1990s, tourism has played an important economic role for Calhoun Falls. The friendly small town feeling in Calhoun Falls has made many new visitors welcome and laid the groundwork for increasing its economic position into the next century.
Calhoun Falls was organized in the 1890s as the result of a meeting when a group of prominent businessmen from Anderson, South Carolina, saw the opportunity for planning a town in the southwestern corner of Abbeville District. The newly organized Western Carolina Land and Improvement Company bought 697 acres of land, laid out a town at the junction of the C&WC and SAL railroad, named streets and began selling lots.
The company also built a 22-room hotel at the top of the hill overlooking Cox Avenue, named after Judge W. F. Cox. Calhoun Falls was named after Colonel James Edward Calhoun, the owner of Millwood, a large estate on the Savannah River, and a relative of John C. Calhoun, the famous 19th century statesman. It is interesting to note that a portion of Colonel Calhoun’s land is now beneath the waters of Lake Russell. During the early 1900s, Calhoun Falls experienced a growth spurt.
Then in August 1906, the Calhoun Falls Investment Company bought 1,360 acres of Calhoun Falls property from the Western Carolina Land and Improvement Company. The purchase included streets, unsold lots, the hotel and other buildings. That September, the Calhoun Mills Company announced it would build a cotton mill. In 1908, with the mill under construction, the town secured a charter for incorporation from the state. The same year, the Bank of Calhoun Falls opened its doors in an attractive brick building that still stands at the top of Cox Avenue.