Hitchcock Woods, one of the largest urban forests in the United States, is an area consolidated between 1891 and 1898 by Celestine Eustis (d. 1921), Thomas Hitchcock (1860-1941), and William Whitney (1841-1904). Described as "the greatest equine playground in America," this tract of more than 8,000 acres was used for steeplechases, fox hunts and other equestrian recreation by the wealthy Northerners who belonged to the "Aiken Winter Colony."
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The tract, now comprising almost 2,000 acres, has been owned and managed by the Hitchcock Foundation since 1939, when Thomas Hitchcock and his daughter Helen Clark established the foundation. Landmarks include Memorial Gate; Cathedral Aisle, a portion of the railroad bed built by the S.C. Rail Road in 1833-34; and Sand River, an unusual natural formation. Annual events include the Aiken Horse Show each April and the "Blessing of the Hounds" each November.