South Carolina Picture Project

Hell Hole Swamp Festival – Jamestown, South Carolina


South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Berkeley County Photos  |  Hell Hole Swamp Festival


Edit This Page  |  Leave A Comment

Tucked away in the boggy woods of Berkeley County sits the ominously-named Hell Hole Swamp. The origins of the Jamestown swamp’s colorful moniker are unclear, though the phrase “Hell Hole” predates the Revolutionary War, appearing on James Cook’s 1773 map of South Carolina. Nevertheless, local legend credits General Cornwallis with the name; he is said to have written in a letter to King George that General Marion and his men had vanished into “one hell of a hole of a swamp.”

Hell Hole Festival Headquarters

Charles Payne of Rock Hill, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Regardless of how Hell Hole Swamp got its name, people have gathered here since 1972 to celebrate its geography and lore, which is famously mired in bootlegging and murder. A former depot for the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, seen above and below, serves as festival headquarters.

Hell Hole Swamp Headquarters

Charles Payne of Rock Hill, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The festival mascot is not an animal, nor is it a person. Instead, an actual moonshine still, once seized by federal agents, is displayed at the annual event, paying homage to Berkeley County’s reputation as a haven for corn liquor. The area became a moonshine hub in the 1920s and 1930s during Prohibition – to the chagrin of Governor John Richards, a proponent and enforcer of the state’s “blue laws,” or laws prohibiting certain activities on Sundays. Governor Richards also detested alcohol and sought to arrest those making or carrying the substance illegally. Family rivalries abounded in Hell Hole, and gunfights often erupted in the backwood thickets of the county. Moonshining in Hell Hole once even led to the death of a South Carolina senator.

On the morning of July 24, 1930, Senator Edward J. “Ned” Dennis of Pinopolis was shot on his way to work in Moncks Corner by W.L. “Sporty” Thornley. Senator Dennis died the following day, and his family’s account of the incident claims that he was shot by a man hired by Hell Hole bootleggers in response to Dennis’ strict enforcement of Prohibition. However, others say that the senator, a lawyer, was involved in a moonshining racket himself, representing apprehended moonshiners and subsequently lining his pockets with attorney fees in a plan involving Dennis, the sheriff, and the deputy sheriff. The group was also rumored to sell the seized moonshine to bootleggers.

Whether or not Senator Dennis was a rigid Prohibitionist or a corrupt player in a moonshining racket, he was indeed murdered for his role in the illicit liquor trade. His son, Senator Rembert Dennis, ran for his father’s old seat in 1943 and served in the state senate until 1988. Prior to that, Rembert Dennis served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1938 until 1942. The Rembert C. Dennis Building within the State House complex in Columbia is named for him.

Prohibition was officially repealed in 1933, but moonshiners continued plying their contraband liquor. When resident Cecil Guerry founded the festival in 1971, he selected the still as the symbol for the event, proudly placing it behind festival headquarters. The festival includes unusual events by modern standards, including a spitting contest, a legs contest, arm wrestling, a parade, the Miss Hell Hole beauty pageant, and a race called the Hell Hole Gator Trot. The Hell Hole Gator Trot is the Lowcountry’s oldest 10k race, besting the renowned Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston. Winners of the race receive fake alligator heads as trophies and get to participate in the parade, held after the race.

The Hell Hole Swamp Festival is held during the first full weekend of May. For those in the Lowcountry at that time, the event is quite memorable. Behind the former depot you can catch a glimpse of the old still – and maybe even some newer ones, depending on how deep into the swamp you choose to go.


Hell Hole Swamp Festival Info


Address: French Santee Road, Jamestown, SC 29453
GPS Coordinates: 33.286268,-79.692796
Website: http://www.hellholeswampfest.com


Hell Hole Swamp Festival Map




Hell Hole Swamp Festival – Add Info and More Photos


The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Hell Hole Swamp Festival, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


Please Share Your Thoughts!


The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!



One Comment about Hell Hole Swamp Festival

Varena Fulmer HenryNo Gravatar says:
July 10th, 2017 at 1:17 pm

My aunt, Willa Scott Shuler was the depot agent here for many years! When we went to visit there wasn’t even a paved road into town! She was my dads sister, Willa Fulmer from Springfield!





Hell Hole Swamp Festival - Related Entries


Owings Depot

Hell Hole Festival Headquarters

Aiken Train Depot

Rockton Rion Greenwood Museum

Cameron Depot

Bull Durham Center

Ehrhardt Depot Side

Hampton Depot
Hampton
Hampton


Denmark Depot




SC PICTURE PROJECT

Join Us on Facebook
Our 5 Goals
Our Contributors
Add Info
Add Pictures
Search for Pictures
Missing Landmarks

SC TOWNS & LANDMARKS

Abbeville ACE Basin Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Waterfalls Water Towers West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Yemassee York

© 2017 SCIWAY.net, LLC All rights reserved.