History – Savannah River Site
Williston was a sleepy Southern town on November 8, 1950, when it was suddenly awakened by the startling news that the Atomic Energy Commission’s nationwide program of nuclear productions and research would be erected on land in Aiken and Barnwell Counties.
Not since the War Between the States had South Carolina towns been evacuated, but all the people living within the bounds of that particular area had to relinquish their property. The “dying” of Dunbarton in Barnwell County and Ellenton in Aiken County is a story closely associated with Williston, for many of these families moved – homes, churches, schools, cemeteries and all – to Williston.
No term could more accurately describe Williston at this time than “renaissance”. Williston had declined from a bustling town boasting “the largest department store in this part of the state”, fine stables, a first class blacksmith shop, a magnificent depot on the Southern Railroad, a crate factory, two hotels, many business houses, and Williston was no longer the “Asparagus Capital of the World”.
In 1950 the population was 896.
During the peak of the Atomic Energy Commission’s project the population of Williston and the outlying areas was estimated at 10,000 or more. The rail road embankment would glisten with the shimmer from metal ‘hard hats’ worn by construction workers waiting to cash payroll checks on payday. Trailer cities sprang up overnight. Some concrete block ‘bath houses’ may be seen in the area today.
When construction was completed, many people moved. Many others remained as employees of DuPont. Others remained simply because they liked Williston and could find employment.
By 1960 the population was reduced to 2,722.
In the years following, several new industries have been attracted to Williston. This accounts, in part, for the fact that the population during 1972 was in excess of 3,000.
Today Williston is an industry leader in Barnwell County . The Dixie Narco Plant of the Crane Corporation manufactures and distributes Beverage and Snack vending machines world wide from their Dixie Narco Blvd. Facility in Williston.
The Dayco Corporation Located in the Former Bud Berman Sportswear Manufacturing plant. Manufactures and ships industrial as well as automotive belts also world wide.
There are some who would turn back the hands of time; there are others who feel that the best times are yet to come.
Thank you for stopping by and remembering – Wonderful Williston South Carolina!