Some of Aiken's most notable landmarks have been immortalized in a coloring book.
The recently released "Amazing South Carolina," a coloring book created by Laura Murray, features five of Aiken county's most well-known attractions. They are: Coker Spring, the Aiken County courthouse, the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, the Frederick Ergle Log Cabin and the Center for African American History, Art and Culture.
The book also features "colonial plantations of the Upstate to the picturesque marshes of the Lowcountry and the lazy Edisto River meandering its way through the state; from big cities like Columbia and Greenville to the vibrant coastal communities of Charleston and Beaufort…" according to its description on Amazon.com.
During a trip through Aiken several years ago, it was the courthouse that captured Murray's attention.
"South Carolina was one of those states that was really difficult to [cover completely], even more so that Georgia or Alabama," Murray said, who also has created "Amazing Alabama" and "Amazing Georgia" coloring books. "[The state] has done such a great job preserving its history and preserving the places that mean so much to the people … no matter [what it is]."
With help from her South Carolina-based family, Murray was able to narrow her search for the state's most prominent landmarks.
"Before I even got started, my dad and I sat around the kitchen table one Sunday with a map of South Carolina, looking for towns and landmarks he knew of," she said. "He's done extensive traveling around the state through the years and gave me tons of great ideas. Then I took that list and expanded on it through lots of county and tourism research."
"Amazing South Carolina" features all 46 of the state's counties with three to six landmarks depending on the county's density, Murray said.
The new book is part of her ongoing series of art books to feature landmarks in all counties within each state, a project she began after moving to Alabama.
"I'm an only child … and I spent a lot of time by myself, so I colored and drew," Murray said. "After I moved to Alabama, I looked around for an Alabama coloring book, and I couldn't find one, so I made one for myself … and I just kept going."
So far, Murray has made coloring books for Alabama, Georgia and now South Carolina, but due to an "open-ended" agreement with her publisher, she plans to continue the series and hopes to cover counties in North Carolina and Florida soon.
Using travel websites and information from the Aiken County Historical Museum, Murray searched other landmarks, including some she did not have room for in her book.
"I kept a spreadsheet of places in each county I wanted to visit," she said. "I never visited the museum, and I definitely want to go to that."
With so much more history from Aiken and other surrounding counties still left to be discovered, another trip to Aiken may be in the works.
"I visit schools, and kids tell me, 'Why didn't you put this?'" she laughed. "I'd love to do sequels … or expanded versions … I think it would be a great secondary project. Now that I have the book finished, I'd love to do a county by county (trip) and color them in as I go."
Murray's coloring books is available ta Amazon, Barnes and Noble and New South Books.