The Aiken Hounds, founded in 1914, are making plans for their centennial celebration next year.
In the late nineteenth century, the South Carolina town was becoming a favorite wintering place for wealthy families from the northeast. Thomas Hitchcock, Sr. and William C. Whitney established the Aiken Winter Colony there and were joined by Astors, Bostwicks, Harrimans, Vanderbilts, other notable families, many of whom had equestrian interests in racing, polo, and hunting.
To this day the Aiken Hounds continue to hunt the drag through the Hitchcock Woods, the largest privately-owned urban forest in the nation. Situated at the very edge of the old village, the Hitchcock Woods Foundation maintains the tract, now encompassing more than two thousand acres, for the enjoyment of all.
Foxhunting as an institution is ingrained in the fabric of the community to this day, and the Aiken Hounds has played a central role in the city’s history and culture for the last hundred years. The hunt’s annual Opening Meet, Blessing of the Hounds, and Stirrup Cup in the Hitchcock Woods at Memorial Gate was selected by the Huffington Post as one of the country’s Ten Terrific Thanksgiving Traditions.
A book commemorating the hunt’s one-hundredth anniversary is planned for release in 2016 to coincide with the one-hundredth anniversary of the Aiken Horse Show in the Woods. Photographs and stories are currently being collected.
Posted March 26, 2013