Prior to 1960, Clemson University preformed most of its research and extension activities in the main campus area related to beef cattle, forages and crops, in the fertile, flat bottom lands that adjoined the banks of the Seneca River and its tributaries. In the late 1950’s the US Army Corps of Engineers had developed a project to construct the Hartwell Dam and Reservoir. The project would inundate all of the lands in the Upper Savannah River Basin up to an elevation of 660’ MSL, including the Tugaloo, Seneca and Keowee Rivers. After several years of legal challenges and ultimately Congressional action lead by US Senator Strom Thurmond, it was agreed that two diversion dams would be built, protecting about 200 acres in the core of Clemson’s campus area. Unfortunately, this protected only 80 or so acres of the agricultural bottom lands. Ultimately, Clemson University would lose roughly 6,000 acres of bottomland forest and 1,500 acres of agricultural bottomland to the Hartwell Project. The university was paid restitution for the property and used those funds to reinvest in new property to develop for agricultural research.
In January, 1960, Clemson University purchased 2,200 acres from 10 landowners about four miles east of Pendleton to establish a new agricultural research center. An additional 65 adjoining acres was purchased in 1973. The largest single tract in the purchase, 850 acres, was owned by the descendants of Col. Richard W. Simpson. Col. Simpson was the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Clemson University, a personal friend of Thomas Green Clemson and the Executer of his will which established the University. Thus, it was decided that the new research center would be named Simpson Station. The second largest tract purchased, 690 acres, had a close Clemson Connection as well. Joe B. Douthit was a Clemson graduate, Trustee, farmer, seedsman and soil and water conservation pioneer. His farm and family homeplace became the South area headquarters.
Initially, research areas at Simpson Station were developed to support most all disciplines of study within the College of Agricultural Sciences. Today, the current research work done at Simpson includes beef cattle, sheep, forage systems, and row crops. Currently, the station houses 250 brood cows, 50 bred heifers, 35 ewes and a 90 head bull test. The land use is: 1,100 acres pasture, 650 acres forest, 450 acres of crop land, 50 acres surface water and 50 acres in support facilities.