I will always recall the day in August 1994 when I first pulled in to Aiken, SC. My sister and I had rented a car in DC for the drive. She was an accomplished journalist in the city and was my note taker for this adventure. I had previously visited Camden SC and Ocala FL as I was determined not to spend another Winter in the Mid-Atlantic since I had over 20 horses in training during the previous winter that proved a challenge with ice and snow.
There was a connection to Aiken and South Carolina for sure. I trained horses for an owner that already had two horses in the Racing Hall of Fame here. As a youth I spent my summers at my uncle’s farm near Spartanburg where he fueled my passion for horses and riding by always having at least 15 mounts to choose from-many of them unbroken. One summer I attended Furman University in Greenville.
So, on that summer day of ’94 when I turned onto South Boundary Avenue on the way to the Aiken Training Track a feeling came over me that I had maybe once lived here in a past life? And the atmosphere at the track, The Willcox Inn and Houndslake Guest House where we stayed were memorable. I made lifelong connections in the two days we were here. And I never left.
To this day I live off South Boundary Avenue and traverse it every day whether with my dog in tow, riding a bike or driving to an appointment or to town. The beauty of it still amazes me.
So, when I read a recent article in the Aiken Standard on this avenue, I felt compelled to write this blog.
Interestingly a live oak has foliage year-round, so these trees stay green throughout the winter, while other oaks lose their leaves and are dormant during the colder months of the year. Henry Dibble has been credited for creating South Boundary’s avenue of oaks in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Dibble, an attorney from Michigan made Aiken his permanent residence and started a dairy farm in Montmorenci, about six miles southeast of town. He decided to create an “avenue” of live oaks to line the boulevard that he traveled so often. Many of the originals still arch their branches over the avenue and it is one of the most photographed places in Aiken and impress all who travel the road. This author included.