Rock Hill, South Carolina has a long and rich history that is deeply intertwined with the history of the state and its Native American inhabitants. In 1851, the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroads established a depot in the area, which was named after a nearby flint hill. This event caused the first tornado-related deaths recorded in York County. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 43.16 square miles (111.8 km), of which 43.0 square miles (111 km) is land and 0.16 square miles (0.41 km) (0.4%) is water.
The population is dispersed, with 24.4% under 18 years of age, 14.7% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64 and 10.4% aged 65 and over. The average age was 31.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.3 males. The cotton boom of the 19th century had a tremendous impact on South Carolina's agriculture and slave tenure patterns, including those in York County. These forgotten succession records from Camden County, which mention numerous pioneers from York County, are currently published in The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research. In 1560s Spanish explorer Juan Pardo entered what is now York County during his travels through South Carolina and recorded his observation of a predominant Indian tribe - later confirmed to be the Catawba - in the vicinity of present-day Fort Mill on the eastern bank of Catawba River. On the eve of the Civil War, York County was one of the most populated districts in northern South Carolina.
Craven County - which encompasses roughly northern half of South Carolina - included land that would eventually become York County. A major factor in growth of York County in mid-19th century was arrival in eastern part of South Carolina's Charlotte Railroad which opened in 1852. This led to creation of Duke Power Company and series of dams and hydroelectric facilities were later built on Catawba River both in North Carolina and South Carolina. This type of vigilant-based justice system was evident in South Carolina Rural Regulatory Movement from mid-1760s to early 1770s. South Carolina's peak cotton harvest was harvested in 1921; from then on cotton production began to decline steadily. Aviator Bryant - who holds two international records and is member of South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame - got his name for airport due to confusion with Bryant Field (airport).