Orangeburg County has been a stopping point for several acting or future U.S. presidents, including President Joe Biden.

Presidents William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft all dined in the Branchville Railroad depot. The dining room was the first passenger dining room where trains would stop for breakfast and dinner.

Though details are slim on the visits, records show Roosevelt visited the county in 1902 when his train stopped briefly at the depot.

Although it was quite early in the morning, a few natives were present with hopes of seeing the president.

Although he didn’t make a speech, he did appear on the rear platform to express his thanks to the small crowd for being there to greet him.

It was Roosevelt’s first visit to South Carolina.

Following Roosevelt, Taft visited the county in 1909. He was greeted by more than 2,500 people on Nov. 6 when his train stopped at the Southern Railroad Depot in Orangeburg to allow for some speech-making. On the way to Columbia, the president also made brief speeches in St. Matthews.

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s train also stopped in Branchville en route to Warm Springs, Georgia, but he remained on board.

Then there were those who visited the area before they were presidents.

Young naval officer John F. Kennedy, future 35th president, was put in charge of protecting the rail lines through Orangeburg as well as the other lines feeding into the naval complex during World War II as the fear of enemy sabotage grew.

Another future president, Jimmy Carter, spent time in Orangeburg on several occasions. Carter enjoyed bird hunting in the Orangeburg area and, when he was governor of the state of Georgia, he would come to the Bolentown area to hunt.

Former California Gov. Ronald Reagan spent some time in Orangeburg when he was running against President Carter.

In 1980, Reagan spoke at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College to about 400 people about his vision if elected president.

Then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush visited the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds in February 2000 as he was running for president. Bush was greeted by about 1,200 supporters as he outlined his platform, shook hands and rallied for support.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama visited Orangeburg several times. As an Illinois state senator, he visited Claflin University’s Ministers Hall in 2004.

In February 2007, Obama visited during a campaign stop and later that year during the first Democratic Party presidential debate in April 2007, which was held at South Carolina State University.

Biden stopped in Orangeburg on several occasions before he was elected president. He’ll make his first stop as president on Friday, when he delivers the commencement address at S.C. State.

In 2007, then-U.S. Sen. Biden was also running for president. The Democratic hopeful made three stops in Orangeburg and gained the endorsement of state Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg.

Biden eventually joined President Obama’s ticket and served as vice president from January 2009 to January 2017.

In 2019, over half of the presidential candidates held a campaign event in Orangeburg, including Biden.

During a presidential campaign stop at Edisto Fork United Methodist Church in July 2019, Biden told an audience “I think we are in the battle for the soul of this nation.”

And in January 2020, Biden spent 20 minutes talking to over 250 people at the David Pascoe Oyster Roast at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds.

He spoke of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and of Biden’s plans to help poor schools, provide more money for rural hospitals and support historically Black colleges and universities.

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