The town of Central, chartered in 1875, grew up along what is now Gaines Street. The post office was called Five Mile from 1851 to 1871. In the 1870s the Atlanta & Richmond Airline Railway built its depot, hotel, offices, and railroad shops at Central. The railroad, later the Atlanta & Charlotte, was acquired by the Southern Railway in 1894. Also called "Centre" and "Central Station," the town was halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte, 133 miles each way.
Issaqueena Cotton Mill, founded by D.K. Norris in 1903, was later operated by Central Mills, Cannon Mills, and Central Textiles. Wesleyan Methodist Bible Institute was founded in 1906 as an elementary and Bible school. It became a junior college in 1928, Central Wesleyan College in 1959, and Southern Wesleyan University in 1994. S.C. Hwy. 93 was once U.S. Hwy. 123, a main route from Atlanta to Charlotte.