So how did Hell Hole Inc. get its name?
The origin of Hell Hole Swamp dates back to the Revolutionary War. In a letter to King George, General Cornwallis called the swamp—from which Francis Marion and his band of guerrillas mounted their attacks and then vanished—"one hell of a hole of a swamp."
During Prohibition times, the swampy cypress trees covered in peat moss of “Hell Hole Swamp” are where the moonshiners would hide from the authorities. The moonshine economy pretty much kept the area afloat, so to speak.
Hell Hole Swamp Festival was founded in 1971 by Cecil Guerry, a local townsman. He had a vision of creating a community festival in which people could come together to socialize and enjoy a weekend full of excitement. With the assistance of several close friends, his vision became possible.
The mascot of the festival is an old moonshine still that was seized by Agents before the first festival in 1972. For the past 43 years on the first full weekend in May, the Town of Jamestown has welcomed visitors from near and far with their southern hospitably to enjoy the Hell Hole Swamp Festival's famous beauty pageants, children’s tobacco spitting contest, and many other events and activities.
Not only is “Hell Hole” widely known for the delicious moonshine it turned out, it is also home of the illustrious Hell Hole Swamp Gang (Mendel L. Rivers (1st congressional district Representative), Robert Evander McNair (Governor of South Carolina), Rembert Dennis (State Senator) and Lester Bates (Columbia Mayor). Rivers was especially proud of the uniqueness of being born in this remote area and would tell reporters that he was "from Gumville. It's near Hell Hole Swamp. If you don't know where it is, look it up."[~ Rivers, pg 15]
Now, the legendary swamp is home to the oldest 10K race in the South Carolina Low country - The Hell Hole Gator Trot, as it is formally called (though aptly and lovingly referred to as the Red Neck Run) - and one of the most entertaining races anywhere. We are located at the intersection of Highway 41 Highway 17-A so make plans to come out and enjoy.