Charleston City Tour - Fort Sumter - Boone Hall Plantation - Magnolia Plantation Beaufort City Tour - Hunting Island Light House - Port Royal Island Myrtle Beach Seaside resort Roebuck Cherokee Mountain Foothills Other pages other states | articles
This is an extract of what to see in this state, with small photos. You will find the full description, history and full-sized photos, in my e-book View America: South Atlantic - Part 1
In the travel series View America, South Atlantic - part 1 covers Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. It is not a traditional travelogue, but a non-commercial and more or less objective chronicle of an in-depth exploration of these states. Each state is described with its own brief historical background and its main sights, tourist attractions and points of interest.
My book does not describe lodgings, restaurants or entertainment, except where these may interact with the narrative. It is illustrated with more than 100 full-sized photos.
~ ~ ~ ~
SOUTH CAROLINA is one of the thirteen original colonies, and it is also called the Palmetto State. In 1788 South Carolina became the 8th state to join the US. The capital and largest city is Columbia. It is part of Carolana, the Latin form of Charles, which was the vast territory that King Charles I granted to Sir Robert Heath in 1629. In 1663 the name was changed by his son Charles II to Carolina, and in 1729 the British split up the area into South Carolina and North Carolina.
Its surface area is approximately 80,000 km2. Initially, almost all of the state was forested, and even now about two thirds of the state is forested. South Carolina counts some four million inhabitants, with a density of 52 inhabitants per km2. All the larger animals are gone, but there remain more than forty species of snakes... Among these are six poisonous snakes ; the copperhead, the cottonmouth, the coral snake and three rattlesnakes - the pygmy, timber and diamond back.
The continuous cotton cultivation over decades strongly impaired the fertility of the soil. Tobacco is now the main crop. The industry wages are some of the lowest in the US. The second source of income is tourism, with well-known resorts such as Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Hilton Head Island.
~ ~ ~ ~
THINGS TO SEE
The best way to visit Charleston is with the tour bus "Doin' the Charleston". It provides an interesting guided tour through the entire city, with comprehensive and entertaining explanations and amusing anecdotes to boot.
For instance we learned that the famous Charleston music was born in a shelter for black children. Every one of them had to learn to play an instrument, and later they formed a band. Another nickname for Charleston is the Holy City, because it comprises no less than 183 churches!
During the tour you'll see many ancient and beautifully restored houses, even though they are rather pricey at more than one million dollars apiece. Next to Fort Sumter, where the first shot in the Civil War was fired, the harbor proudly displays an aircraft carrier.
The Boone Hall Plantation was built in 1750. The access to the plantation leads through the world famous and very impressive oak lane (Oak Alley), which has been filmed countless times, including in the famous series North and South. Though the mansion has been rebuilt several times and the furnishing is not original, the visit is certainly most interesting.
The Magnolia Plantation is especially famous for its extensive English gardens. The mansion was destroyed twice, first by fire, and then a second time during the secession war. The present estate is certainly interesting, if perhaps not exceptional, in terms of fine craftsmanship.
The gardens were originally a copy of a French Louis XIV-garden, but later the owner transformed them into English style gardens which required far less maintenance. A walk through the gardens takes at least forty-five minutes. Its vegetation looks more natural, and it includes several trails and rest areas. Definitely worth the visit!
Beaufort is a beautiful small city with a very attractive marina. Here and there you'll find a few antique buildings, but the Verdier House Museum is the only one that is open to the public. Many other private buildings have been restored or transformed into Inns or small hotels with bed and breakfast, or office buildings.
Hunting Island is the most-visited state park in South Carolina. Next to fabulous views of five miles of beach, it houses an old lighthouse. The visitor center provides extensive information about the island and the lighthouse.
This is actually the third version of the lighthouse, which originally was built in 1859. A few years later it was destroyed during the Secession War, and rebuilt in 1875. In 1889, it was torn down again, because the erosion of the island was so great, that after only fourteen years it stood IN the water instead of standing NEXT TO the water...
In 1890, the lighthouse was reassembled five hundred feet land inwards, and it remained in service until 1933. Everything is immaculate and very well maintained. Definitely worth the visit!
Not too far from Hunting island lies Port Royal Island, a port specializing in shrimp fishers. The scenery is so exceedingly picturesque, that immediately scenes from the movie Forrest Gump come to mind. Which is not surprising, for later we discovered that part of this movie was indeed filmed in this port. Perfect!
Myrtle Beach is South Carolina's most famous seaside resort, would compare well with the touristic port of Marbella in Spain. It contains a simply incredible number of hotels, lodgings and restaurants, both American and exotic.
Next to the traditional array of shops, there is an abundance of real estate agencies, beachwear, Callabache seafood (a local preparation of crabs and shrimp), and surprisingly, a plethora of mini-golf courses! The advertising for fireworks and beachwear is simply omnipresent, and the only downside of this city is perhaps that about every square inch is clad with screaming publicity panels...
The Cherokee Mountain Foothills Trail is a Scenic Byway with remarkable scenery. The first part of the Byway is quiet and rural, with mostly good-looking residences and a precious memorial and cemetery.
The second part of the trail shows pretty countryside, with the ubiquitous red dirt, and peach plantations with pink blossoms. As much as Florida can be called the citrus state, South Carolina seems to be the peach culture state.
The entire Byway is about one hundred and forty miles long, and about halfway it gives way to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The scenery immediately changes to a more rugged landscape, with downright exceptional views and panoramas.