In 1869, newspaper articles touted Aiken as a health and pleasure resort with the world's largest wooden hotel. Swirling social life and sporting action continued during the war years, when the women of society carried on local traditions. In 1950, Aiken was bustling with scientists and engineers who relocated to work at the Savannah River Site. The last half of the 20th century saw swelling crowds at polo matches, steeplechase races, fox hunts, golf courses, and cultural amusements. In the early 21st century, many Aiken sporting traditions mark milestone anniversaries. At the center of everything is Hitchcock Woods, a woodland paradise, pine-topped cathedral, and equestrian playground that remains open year-round. The Hitchcock Woods Foundation was established to safeguard this treasure within the heart of Aiken. The Aiken Horse Show, held each spring, and Blessing of the Hounds, held on Thanksgiving, are two of the most revered of Aiken's sporting traditions.
About the Author
Jane Page Thompson brings readers a glimpse of the past and offers hope for the future in this book, which contains photographs from private and public collections honoring the seminal events that have made Aiken a social and sporting draw for almost 200 years. The book also includes a foreword by Linda Knox McLean, MFH Aiken Hounds.
MFH Aiken Hounds
Table of Contents
Foreword and Acknowledgments 6
1 Aiken is Calling: Hotels, Healing Air, and Horses Keep Luring People Back 9
2 Golden Age of Sport: Hitchcock Woods Invite Three Sports a Day 23
3 Social Life is Sport in Aiken: Southern Hospitality Meets Yankee Ingenuity 37
4 Sporting when Living was Hard: Wars, Prohibition, Taxes, and Seizure 59
5 Carrying on Family Traditions: Generations of Horse People, Merchants, and Visitors 73
6 Celebrating Aiken's Milestones: Sporting Events and Traditions Reach the Century Mark 91
7 Aiken and the Next 100 Years: The Faces Change but the Sporting Remains 109
About Hitchcock Woods 127