Photography . . . Travel . . .

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Exploring the Low Country - Part 7 - Hunting Island Lighthouse and Beaufort, South Carolina

The driving distance from Charleston, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia is about 100 miles. Most people do it in about 2 hours. When we pulled up to our hotel in Savannah the valet asked how our day had been. I replied that we had taken all day to drive down from Charleston. With all sincerity he said something like "sorry to hear that, must have been a lot of accidents". Some people just don't get it - and we weren't sorry at all. We saw a whole bunch of really great stuff along the way. 

We also sampled some really good black cherry cider at the Carolina Cider Company . . . .

. . . . and a little bit later had a really good salad the Magnolia Cafe and Bakery in Beaufort.

After lunch we headed out past Beaufort to the coast - we figured that since we had come this far we really should see the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way we stumbled onto some ruins. We found a road that showed on the map as ending at Fort Fremont, and on the way came across the remains of this old chapel. It was built in 1740, and apparently it was burned in a forest fire in 1886.

At the end of the road, at the southwestern tip of St. Helena Island, we came to Fort Fremont. It was constructed in 1898 to defend Port Royal Sound. At its peak the fort covered 70 acres. Here's one of the mount areas for one of the 10" disappearing guns. The fort was never involved in military action, and the gun batteries were decommissioned in 1901. 

From Fort Fremont we backtracked to the main road and then continued our journey out towards the Atlantic. Our next stop was Hunting Island State Park, home to at least one alligator, and the only lighthouse on the South Carolina coast that is open to the public and that you can climb to the top of.

The first Hunting Island light was built in 1859, then destroyed by the Confederates at the start of the Civil War , and rebuilt in 1879. In 1889 it was moved 1.25 miles inland (the earlier site was in the water due to coastal erosion). We walked along the beach from the parking area to get to the lighthouse - I can say for certain that it is nowhere near 1.25 miles from the edge of the sea now. More like a couple of hundred yards. The lighthouse was built using cast iron plates and was specifically designed to be dismantled in case it ever needed to be relocated. The Hunting Island light was deactivated in 1933, and is now open for tours as part of Hunting Island State Park. 

It's well worth the effort to climb the 167 steps up to the platform just below the light, the view from 132' up is pretty good - even on a windy, rainy day.

The staircase inside of the tower is a circular one made of wrought iron. There is no center support (as in the one at Tybee Island, Georgia) so you can actually see almost all the way up or down through the center of the tower.

I never realized until we got there just how subtropical this part of the Atlantic Coast is. Lots of palmetto and dense undergrowth. Even though it rained a lot it never got cold enough to need a jacket.

From Hunting Island it was time to head back inland and then continue our journey south to Savannah. We took backroads the whole way, rather than heading out to I-95.

Click here to see more images from Hunting Island State Park and the area around Beaufort, South Carolina - including a picture of sign that explains why there is a caution against feeding alligators at the Hunting Island State Park Visitor Center.

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.