Bluffton, South Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Blufftown, South Carolina
settlement_type = Town
nickname =
motto =

imagesize =
image_caption =


mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location of Bluffton, South Carolina

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =

subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = South Carolina
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Beaufort

government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
established_title =
established_date =

unit_pref = Imperial
area_footnotes =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 94.9
area_land_km2 = 88.0
area_water_km2 = 6.9
area_total_sq_mi = 36.6
area_land_sq_mi = 34.0
area_water_sq_mi = 2.7

population_as_of = 2000
population_footnotes =
population_total = 1275
population_density_km2 = 14.5
population_density_sq_mi = 37.5

timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 6
elevation_ft = 20
latd = 32 |latm = 12 |lats = 45 |latNS = N
longd = 80 |longm = 53 |longs = 50 |longEW = W

postal_code_type = ZIP codes
postal_code = 29909-29910
area_code = 843
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 45-07210GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 1220833GR|3
website =
footnotes =

Bluffton is a town in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 1,275 at the 2000 census and center of the Bluffton Urban Cluster with a total population of 5,848. However, this separated urban area currently defined as Bluffton is quickly becoming contiguous to that of the significantly larger Hilton Head Island adjacent to it. As designated by the U.S. Census Bureau, Bluffton is included within the Hilton Head Island–Beaufort Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Bluffton is known for its rapid development, currently among the fastest in the state of South Carolina. A large amount of land has been annexed in the last few years leaving behind the old "1 Square Mile" adage.


Bluffton is located at coor dms|32|12|45|N|80|53|50|W|city (32.212517, -80.897296)GR|1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 36.6 square miles (94.9 km²), of which, 34.0 square miles (88.0 km²) of it is land and 2.7 square miles (6.9 km²) of it (7.26%) is water.


During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the area comprising southern Beaufort County was known as Granville County of St. Luke’s Parish. As the Yemassee Indians had established ten towns with over 1,200 inhabitants in that area, it was considered “Indian Lands.” In 1715, the Yemassee War broke out and after several years of fighting, the Yemassee tribe migrated to Florida, opening the “Indian Lands” to European settlement. In 1718, the Lords Proprietors carved the area into several new baronies, including the Devil’s Elbow Barony that contained the future town of Bluffton.

The Town of Bluffton was eventually built on two adjoining parcels in the Devil’s Elbow Barony purchased by Benjamin Walls and James Kirk. The first homes were constructed during the early 1800s by area plantation owners seeking the high ground and cool river breezes as an escape from the unhealthy conditions present on Lowcountry rice and cotton plantations. Easy access by water provided more incentive for expansion and the many tidal coves afforded excellent locations for residences. The first streets were formally laid out during the mid-1800s and the name of Bluffton decided upon during the same period.

In 1844 the planters around Bluffton became angered by Federal tariffs which were making the goods they imported from abroad excessively expensive. Out of this discontent grew the "Bluffton Movement." Incensed planters gathered beneath what became known as the "Secession Oak" and the secessionist movement was born. Sixteen years later South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.

In 1852 the Town was officially incorporated by an act of the South Carolina General Assembly and comprised approximately one square mile. A steamboat landing was constructed at the end of Calhoun Street at this time, which allowed the Town to be a stopover for travelers between Savannah and Beaufort or Charleston.

Within one year of the capture of Fort Sumter, Bluffton became a safe haven for residents fleeing Union occupation of the South Carolina barrier islands. Bluffton was a headquarters for Confederate forces until Union forces on Hilton Head Island ordered the Town’s destruction in 1863. Approximately 60 structures were in the Town before the attack, only the Town’s two churches and fifteen residences remained standing after the attack.

On June 4, 1863, several Union gunboats and a transport carrying 1,000 infantrymen steamed up the river to Bluffton because, as the officer in charge wrote in his report, "This town has been the headquarters for the rebels for a long time in this vicinity." Troops were landed with orders to fire the town. Confederate soldiers attacked but were outnumbered and outgunned. When shelling and torching ended and the Union forces withdrew, 34 or more homes, churches and other buildings had been destroyed. This, of course, was a severe blow to the town which took years to overcome.

Rebuilding came slowly as few local landowners could still afford the luxury of a summer home in Bluffton. The Town did not experience a true rebuilding until the 1880s, when the Town emerged as a commercial center for Beaufort County. The Town remained a commercial center until the Coastal Highway (US 17) and the bridge at Port Wentworth over the Savannah River were completed, making riverboat trade and travel less attractive. The Great Depression, beginning shortly thereafter, brought the closure of the Town’s prosperity and commercial importance. The popularity of the Town as a vacation spot remained even after its loss of commercial stature. The development of Hilton Head Island, nearby Sun City, and related development have caused a resurgence of commercial activity in the Town.

The Hilton Head Story

In the early 1950s, Joseph Fraser and Fred Hack saw the potential of Hilton Head Island as a vast tree farm. They purchased thousands of forested acres on the island for timber. It was Joseph Fraser's son, Charles, who developed Sea Pines and orchestrated the early growth of the island into a resort community. In 1957, developer Charles E. Fraser broke ground for a new resort in Hilton Head Island's longleaf pine forests. When Fraser started planning Sea Pines Plantation, Hilton Head was an isolated place and most of Beaufort County was impoverished. But Sea Pines' extraordinary success changed all of that. Within just a couple of generations, Beaufort County was transformed from among the poorest to one of the richest counties in the state. Sea Pines Plantation was the first resort development on the island. Soon, other developments, such as Hilton Head Plantation, Palmetto Dunes Plantation, Shipyard Plantation, and Port Royal Plantation, followed, imitating Sea Pines' architecture and landscape. In the 1970s, Hilton Head Island was incorporated as a town. Shortly thereafter, a four-lane bridge was constructed to replace the James Byrnes two-lane swing bridge (1982). The completion of the Cross Island Parkway in 1998, which connects the island's north and south ends via a six-mile (10 km) stretch of road, is one of the most recent stepping stones in Hilton Head's development. The idea to connect the road dates back to the 1950s with Fraser and his brother, Joe, who were early advocates. The bridge spanning Broad Creek was named in Charles Fraser's honor. Today, more than 30,000 people call Hilton Head home, and more than 2 million visitors flock to the island each year. However, with development came the problem of traffic congestion along Highway 278 (Hilton Head's main thoroughfare) which remains a problem even today.

By 1974, off-island development began with Moss Creek. William A. Fischel’s concept of “incomplete assignment of property rights” relates to the off-island development pressure occurring in the Hilton Head/Bluffton area. In the case of Hilton Head Island, active growth management (1980s) tried to restrict further development in order to protect the island’s amenities. Hilton Head limited development by successfully restricting the number of units and number of bedrooms one could build. Hence, the result of these restrictions is off-island development. Once communities place restrictions on development, the development itself often spills over into surrounding communities, shifting growth inland. In this case, the “spillover development” from Hilton Head Island directly affects Bluffton.

Recent annexations

Once Hilton Head Island began to reach the “build out” stage of development, Bluffton officials began to recognize the enormous amount of growth that would soon face the town. All of the land outside the original “one square mile” of the town was in the jurisdiction of Beaufort County. Instead of ignoring the growth in the area, the town began to annex land in order to possess some local control over future development.

Since 1998 , Bluffton has grown from a convert|1|sqmi|km2|0 town to controlling the future development of more than convert|32000|acre|km2|0, a majority of which is located five or more miles from the heart of the town. In November 1998,Bluffton went a few miles down the May River and annexed Palmetto Bluff convert|20660|acre|km2|0, a parcel of land that was only connected by waterways, and Shults Tract convert|620|acre|km2|1, in April 2000, the Buckwalter tract convert|5600|acre|km2|0, and in June 2000, the Jones tract convert|4400|acre|km2|0. These properties are shown in figure 3 that indicates how the geographical expanse of the town has grown in the past two years. While today those properties stand as large, undeveloped parcels, they each are a planned unit development with homes, businesses and parkland in their future.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 1,275 people, 465 households, and 341 families residing in the town. The population density was 37.5 people per square mile (14.5/km²). There were 501 housing units at an average density of 14.7/sq mi (5.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 63.22% White, 32.47% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 3.14% from other races, and 0.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.96% of the population.

There were 465 households out of which 39.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.0% were married couples living together, 16.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.5% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.16.

In the town the population was spread out with 29.4% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 35.2% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $43,281, and the median income for a family was $48,611. Males had a median income of $35,139 versus $24,444 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,327. About 8.6% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.9% of those under age 18 and 26.2% of those age 65 or over.

Related links

*Bluffton Movement


External links

* [ Town of Bluffton]
* [ The Island Packet, a local newspaper]
* [ Bluffton Today, a local newspaper]

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