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Gaffney, South Carolina

Gaffney, South Carolina
The Gaffney Commercial Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Gaffney Commercial Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nickname(s): "Peach Capital of South Carolina"
Gaffney is located in South Carolina
Location of Gaffney, South Carolina
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Cherokee
 • Mayor Henry Jolly
 • Total 8.35 sq mi (21.63 km2)
 • Land 8.32 sq mi (21.56 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
Elevation 780 ft (245 m)
Population (2014 est.)[1]
 • Total 12,597
 • Density 1,513/sq mi (584.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 29340-29342
Area code(s) 864
FIPS code 45-28060
GNIS feature ID 1247855[2]
Website .govcityofgaffney-sc

Gaffney is a city in and the county seat of Cherokee County, South Carolina, United States,[3] in the Upstate region of South Carolina. Gaffney is known as the "Peach Capital of South Carolina". The population was 12,539 at the 2010 census,[4] with an estimated population of 12,597 in 2014.[1] It is the principal city of the Gaffney, South Carolina, Micropolitan Statistical Area (population 55,662 according to 2012 estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau), which includes all of Cherokee County and which is further included in the greater Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, South Carolina Combined Statistical Area (population 1,384,996 according to year 2012 U.S. Census Bureau estimates).


  • History 1
    • 2009 spree killings 1.1
  • Geography 2
  • Demographics 3
  • Government 4
  • Education 5
  • Media 6
  • Infrastructure 7
    • Transportation 7.1
    • The Gaffney Peachoid 7.2
  • Notable people 8
  • In popular culture 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Michael A. Gaffney, born in Georgia. Michael Gaffney died here on September 6, 1854.

In 1872, the area became known as "Gaffney City". Gaffney became the county seat of Cherokee County which was formed out of parts of York, Union, and Spartanburg counties in 1897. Gaffney became a major center for the textile industry in South Carolina, which was the backbone of the county's economy up until the 1980s.

Despite the small amount of population growth, businesses and companies continue to locate within the city limits, especially along the bustling Floyd Baker Boulevard and Highway 105 and many other areas within the city limits. However, most population growth recently has occurred outside of the city limits.

Uptown Gaffney began to languish after Interstate 85 was built in the county as industries located near the new highway. Recent renovations in downtown Gaffney have prompted more businesses to locate there, but there is still a great deal that is planned for the central part of the city. Many plans have been announced for the downtown area, including a 20-acre (81,000 m2) park that is currently being developed on the grounds of a recently demolished mill (Gaffney Manufacturing Co.). A plaza has been completed beside city hall and includes a refurbished fountain and extensive landscaping. Highlights to the upgrade of the city's park system include a skatepark, two passive parks, and several children's playgrounds.

In 2008 the Cherokee County History & Arts Museum opened on College Drive in the historic Central Elementary School building. The museum is operated by the Cherokee Historical & Preservation Society and is located on the mustering ground of the South Carolina militia (1812–1914). Located just blocks from downtown Gaffney and in one of the city's three nationally registered historic sites, the museum offers new cultural opportunities for locals and visitors, while having a positive economic impact for the downtown area. Annual events include a pottery show, car show, and ghost walk.

The city has recently hired an architectural firm to renovate the old Gaffney Post Office, located at the intersection of Frederick and Granard streets, into a visitor's center and art gallery.

There are also plans for a large cultural center to be placed in the downtown area. In 2009 Darren Mason was elected president of the Gaffney Downtown Business Association and has worked closely with city officials in revitalizing the Historic Downtown area which consists of about six blocks. New matching fund programs have been key to restoring old buildings by painting and using attractive awnings to spruce up the old look of main street.

Gaffney Station Farmers' Market has been established in a city parking lot directly across from the old post office downtown. The farmers' market operates on Wednesdays and Saturdays from June through October. There are plans to create a more permanent site for the farmer's market at that location. The city of Gaffney plans to build a partial replica of the old train depot that was once located there. The replica will house a portion of the farmer's market and also act as a landmark that calls back to the days of the old depot.

The city recently concluded Spring Session '08 of a popular concert series entitled "Shindig at the Gaffney Cabin". Bands perform on a weekly basis: Fridays during the Spring Session (May) and Thursdays during the Fall Session (late August through September). Concerts are held on Thursdays during Fall Sessions so as not to conflict with Gaffney Indian football games on Friday nights. The city will hold more of those concerts in 2009, this time from April to June 2009, and again from August to October of the same year.

Two serial killers have at different times attacked residents of Gaffney. In 1968 Lee Roy Martin, known as the Gaffney Strangler, killed four women. In 2009, a series of shootings led to five deaths.[5]

The Archeological Site 38CK1, Archeological Site 38CK44, Archeological Site 38CK45, Carnegie Free Library, Coopersville Ironworks Site (38CK2) and Susan Furnace Site (38CK67), Cowpens Furnace Site (38CK73), Winnie Davis Hall, Ellen Furnace Site (38CK68), Gaffney Commercial Historic District, Gaffney Residential Historic District, Irene Mill Finishing Plant, Jefferies House, Limestone Springs Historic District, Magness-Humphries House, Nesbitt's Limestone Quarry (38CK69), and Settlemyer House are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.[6]

2009 spree killings

The city of Gaffney and surrounding Cherokee County came into the national spotlight during the summer of 2009 when a spree killer began killing residents of the rural town.[7]

The first victim, a prominent peach farmer from western Cherokee County, was killed on June 27. On July 1, the killer was responsible for the death of an 83-year-old woman and her 50-year-old daughter. The two were found bound and shot to death in the elder woman's home near Gaffney. On July 2, 46-year-old Stephen Tyler was shot and killed in his appliance and furniture store; his teenage daughter, Abby, was critically wounded; she died of her injuries two days later.[8]

The news spread quickly from the local newspaper to national and international media outlets including CNN, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC.

On July 6, police responding to an emergency call of a burglary in progress in Gaston County, North Carolina, shot and killed a suspect who drew a gun on them, injuring one officer. Ballistic tests and checks on the suspect's SUV indicated this to be the wanted killer, later identified as Patrick Tracy Burris.[8][9]


Gaffney is located in northern South Carolina at (35.071667, -81.650000),[10] near the center of Cherokee County. It is located 55 miles (89 km) southwest of Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is 21 miles (34 km) southwest on I-85.

Interstate 85 passes along the northern edge of Gaffney, with access from Exits 90, 92, and 95. U.S. Route 29 passes through the center of Gaffney, leading northeast 9 miles (14 km) to Blacksburg and southwest 10 miles (16 km) to Cowpens. South Carolina Highway 18 leads north 17 miles (27 km) to Shelby, North Carolina, becoming North Carolina Highway 18 along the way, and south 19 miles (31 km) to Jonesville. South Carolina Highway 11 leads northwest 14 miles (23 km) to Chesnee.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Gaffney has a total area of 8.35 square miles (21.63 km2), of which 8.32 square miles (21.56 km2) is land and 0.03 square miles (0.07 km2), or 0.31%, is water.[4]


As of the census of 2000, there were 12,968 people, 5,304 households, and 3,336 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,649.7 people per square mile (637.0/km²). There were 5,765 housing units at an average density of 733.4 per square mile (283.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 50.48% White, 47.19% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.99% from other races, and 0.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.98% of the population.

There were 5,304 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.1% were married couples living together, 21.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.1% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 82.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,480, and the median income for a family was $38,449. Males had a median income of $30,145 versus $22,167 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,755. About 13.3% of families and 26.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.2% of those under age 18 and 18.0% of those age 65 or over.


  • Mayor: Henry L. Jolly
  • City Council members:
    • Wayne Ramsey (District 1)
    • Thomas R. Reid (District 2)
    • S. Bernard Smith (District 3)
    • Dennis Ramsey (District 4)
    • Boone Peeler (District 5)
    • Billy Love (District 6)


Gaffney is served by the Cherokee County School District, which is one unified school district. Public schools in Gaffney include:

  • Gaffney High School
  • Ewing Middle School
  • Gaffney Middle School
  • Granard Middle School
  • B D Lee Elementary School
  • Limestone Central Elementary School
  • Mary Bramlett Elementary School

Private schools in Gaffney include:

  • Heritage Christian School
  • Village School of Gaffney
  • Gaffney Christian Academy

Colleges & universities:

The Gaffney High School football team is well-known regionally. The program boasts 16 state championships and alumni such as the Washington Redskins' Rocky McIntosh and University of South Carolina All-American and Minnesota Vikings' Sidney Rice. In the 2005–2006 school year the school was chosen as Palmetto's Finest, the highest honor for high schools in the state. The school has succeeded greatly in increasing test scores across the board and increasing the graduation rate.


  • The Cherokee Chronicle, local newspaper published on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • The Gaffney Ledger, local newspaper published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Spartanburg Herald-Journal, area newspaper
  • WZZQ 104.3 FM and 1500 AM, local news, country music, local high school and college sports
  • WFGN 1180 AM, gospel music
  • WYFG 91.1 FM, Christian



Gaffney is located on the Interstate 85 corridor, linking it to Atlanta and Charlotte.

Public transit is available through the Gaffney Cab Company for a relatively low fare.

The Gaffney Peachoid

The Upstate region is served by two airports, ICAO: KGSP), also known as GSP International Airport (40 miles (64 km) to the southwest), and Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT, 48 miles (77 km) to the northeast). Recent studies have proved that an airport is strongly needed in the county. Cherokee County is the only county in South Carolina without an airport. Requests are now being made to the federal government to support the construction of the new airport. Studies are also determining where the airport, if built, should be built.

The Gaffney Peachoid

Travelers know Gaffney from the Peachoid water tower making note that Gaffney is the peach capital of South Carolina, located along Interstate 85 near exit 92. The Peachoid is a water tower shaped like a peach which some think of as an erotic sculpture upon first view. It serves both artistic and practical functions.

Notable people

Notable figures who were born in, lived in, or are otherwise associated with Gaffney:

In popular culture

Congressman Frank Underwood, the protagonist in the Netflix series House of Cards, is a native of the city and its representative in the United States House of Representatives (specifically, South Carolina's 5th congressional district); through this office, he is the Democratic House Majority Whip. He goes back to visit Gaffney in "Chapter 3" after a Gaffney teenager crashes her car near the famed Peachoid water tower after texting while driving (although the scenes were filmed in Havre de Grace, Maryland).[14][15]


  1. ^ a b c "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014 (PEPANNRES): South Carolina Incorporated Places".  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Gaffney city, South Carolina (revision of 02-22-2013)". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Americas | US community fears serial killer". BBC News. July 5, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  6. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  7. ^ Associated Press. "S.C. police at N.C. shooting near serial killings". Washington Times. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  8. ^ a b "Robbery Suspect Fatally Shot By Police In N.C., Is The Suspect In S.C. Serial Killings". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  9. ^, Police ID serial killer suspect slain in N.C., 6 July 2009, retrieved 7 July 2009
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  13. ^ Green Design Advocate Neil Chambers Launches National Book Tour
  14. ^ Chris Jancelewicz (26 February 2013). Season 1, Episode 3 Recap: Just Peachoid"House Of Cards".  
  15. ^ Stephen Largen (19 March 2013). "'"Upstate town's giant peach is ripe for fame on Netflix drama 'House of Cards.  

External links

  • City of Gaffney official website
  • Cherokee County History & Arts Museum
  • Cherokee County School District
  • Gaffney Downtown Business Association
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