Oconee County, South Carolina

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Oconee County is the westernmost county of South Carolina, a U.S. state. The 2000 census recorded its population to be 66,215. In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that its population had reached 69,577.[1] Its county seat is Walhalla.[2] Other cities in the county include Seneca and Westminster. Towns include Salem and West Union. The county is included in the Seneca Micropolitan Statistical Area. A large portion of South Carolina Highway 11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway, is located in Oconee County.

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Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 674 square miles (1,745 km²), of which 625 square miles (1,620 km²) is land and 48 square miles (125 km²) (7.15%) is water. The hilly landscape has created a haven for man-made lakes. Three large man-made lakes provide residents with sport fishing, water skiing, and sailing as well as hydroelectric power. The largest lake is Lake Hartwell, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1955 and 1963. Lake Keowee is the second largest lake and the Oconee Nuclear Station operates by the lake. Lake Jocassee is the third largest and is a source of hydroelectric energy, but is also popular for its breathtaking scenery and numerous waterfalls. Bad Creek Reservoir, located in the mountains above Jocassee, is for generating electricity during peak hours. The water level can fall by tens of feet per hour and during off-peak times water is pumped back into the lake for the next peak period. Because of this, boating and swimming are prohibited in the reservoir.

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