Easley was named after Confederate General William King Easley. In the late 1800s, Easley persuaded officials from the Charlotte-to-Atlanta Airline Railroad to lay a track through the town.
The town of Easley was surveyed and lots sold on August 3, 1873 shortly after the railroad was finished. A charter was granted immediately afterward, the town site being on half mile square. Robert Elliott Holcombe was elected "Intendant" (Mayor).
The arrival of the railroad helped fuel development of the textile industry in Pickens County. As the textile industry began to take shape in the area, Clemson Agriculture College was established at the southwest corner of the county. Clemson opened its doors to 466 male cadets in 1893.
In the early 1960s the first of a trio of large reservoirs was developed, with the U.S. Corps of Engineers complete Hartwell Dam on the Savannah River. The dam created Hartwell Lake, which borders Clemson.
Then in the 1970s, Duke Power purchased land in northern Pickens and Oconee counties that led to the construction of Duke's Oconee Nuclear Station which began producing electric power in 1973.
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