Lower Richland County encompasses approximately 360 square miles in the heart of South Carolina's geographic center. The Wateree River cradles it to the east, and the Congaree River borders the south and southwest. Virginia settlers discovered this rich land over 250 years ago. They became wealthy planters and accumulated large land tracts, creating plantation systems that sustained the economy. From 1783 until 1820, cotton was the principal cash crop, and the slave population increased tremendously and played a vital role in the development of agriculture and the economy in the area.