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Pickens is named after American Revolutionary War Brigadier General Andrew Pickens

Present-day Pickens of Pickens County was previously Cherokee Territory. During the American Revolutionary War the Cherokee sided with the Kingdom of Great Britain. When Great Britain was defeated in the war the Cherokee were forced to surrender their land. In 1791 the state legislature established Washington District that comprises present-day Greenville, Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens County. In 1798 Washington District was divided into Greenville and Pendleton districts. The Pendleton district eventually became Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens County. Pendleton District was divided in 1828 into Anderson and Pickens. A courthouse was established on the banks of the Keowee River where the town of Pickens Court House was developed. The Hagood-Mauldin House was built around 1856 and is one of the historic structures of Pickens County. In 1868 the Pickens District was divided for a final time into Pickens and Oconee County. Pickens Court House relocated to its present-day site and was renamed to Pickens. The Pickens Railway was established in 1898 as a Shortline railroad from Easley to Pickens. From 1955 until 1987 Sangamo-Weston Inc.operated a capacitor manufacturing facility just outside Pickens. Until they were banned in the US, Sangamo discharged a significant amount of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into a tributary of the Twelve Mile River which feeds Lake Hartwell. Sangamo also dumped contaminated waste in six locations in the vicinity of Pickens. In two of these locations the waste was burned forming more dangerous dioxins. According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, contamination was discovered at the “Breazeale site”, southwest of town. Schlumberger paid $11.8 million to federal and state agencies for injuries to natural resources caused by the contamination.