Ted and I visited Drayton Hall, one of the historic plantations on the Ashley River for the first time today.
Due to a confluence of circumstances of our timing, a day where the heat index was going over 90 F (32 C) so they were limiting traffic in the house, and busloads of other visitors we did not go inside.
From the front, or at least the more opulent, entrance. I found it odd that there were no gardens or plantings immediately around the house.
We’ll go back after it cools off a bit here, and the tourist traffic slows.
Rice field trunks play a big role in controlling water movement in many of the South Carolina areas I explore. Once used for growing rice, private land owners and the SC Department of Natural Resources currently manage thousands of acres of wetlands using this time-tested method. Dikes separate what was a rice field from a major body of water and the trunk is used to move water back and forth.
Last week the water had been let out of the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens boat pond, so named because they give nature tours by boat around the pond. To give you an idea of the size, the perimeter of the pond is about 1.75 miles (3 KM). The pond is a mixture of open water and cat tails / reed clumps. Two years ago the boat channel was dredged and the water seen in the first image is in that channel.
With the low water I was able to get some images of the trunk parts that are normally under water.
There is a wooden box creating a culvert under the dike (think cereal box laying on its side). I have read that these are called trunks because in colonial times hollowed tree trunks were used to conduct the water.
The lower paddle ends of the flaps, which pivot at the top, are adjusted to manage the water flow.
The Ashley River is tidal, so with both ends of the trunk wide open at low tide the water drains out of the pond. Then with at least one end of the trunk closed as the tide turns the water in the pond will remain low. The seals on either end are not tight and there is always some water movement.
Leaving the trunks ends open will refill the pond as the tide raises the water level in the river. Sometimes they are left open for days to wash out the pond or change the salinity level.
The bonus to all this for the nature photographer is that wading and shore birds are attracted to the lower water. Fish are concentrated in a smaller volume making hunting easier and they can poke around in the mud.
I took these pictures and wrote this post last summer, but was never satisfied with my text. Tonight, as a curfew has been imposed by our county and there is unrest all around us, it seems appropriate to remember these leaders.
The Williamsburg County Courthouse in Kingstree, SC was built on a Revolutionary War era parade ground. In addition to the courthouse, which was built in 1823, and various war memorials, there are monuments commemorating Justice Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King.
A civil rights attorney, Thurgood Marshall succeeded in having the US Supreme Court declare segregated public schools unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and in 1967 became the first black Justice on that Court.
“I did the best I could with what I had.”
Dr. Martin Luther King spoke locally on Mother’s Day, 1966, advocating the power of voting.
“Unless we learn to live together as brothers Surely we will die apart as fools.”
Saint Phillips is one of a group of barrier islands that sit at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean between Hilton Head Island and Edisto Island, protecting mainland South Carolina from the sea.
In 2017 the State of South Carolina purchased Saint Phillips Island from Ted Turner, who self describes as “founder of media empire, philanthropist, and environmentalist pioneer in sustainable resources.”
He owned the nearly 5000 acre (20 square KM) property for several decades, creating nature trails and building this modest home for seaside get-aways. The state parks department is exploring how to include this treasure as part of Hunting Island State Park (not to be confused with Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet).
Accessible only by boat, I was fortunate to be on one of the first public trips to the island. There was a lot to see and no where near enough time!
Our tour included a walk through the house. The screened front porch facing the ocean was fantastic!
When the house was first built there was an expansive sand beach leading down to the ocean. Barrier islands change continuously from the effects of storms and daily wave action and that beach is now gone. At some point this rip-rap was installed to help keep the water at bay.
The Blue Ridge Railroad was hoping to bore through Stumphouse Mountain for a line extending from Anderson, South Carolina to Knoxville, Tennesee. Started in the early 1850s, 1,500 Irish miners cut through blue granite with hand drills, hammers and chisels, and black powder in this and two nearby tunnels. Their efforts came to an end in 1859 when no more funding could be procured to complete the work and subsequent efforts to restart the rail project over the next several decades failed.
Even though the ceiling was quite high, 20 or 25 feet ( 6 or 7 meters) right here, I’m not a fan of underground spaces and stayed pretty close to the entrance. Ted was a bit more adventurous. You can go further, but would want better shoes and light, be prepared for bats, and have water protection for your camera.
There was less green growth on the walls just a short distance from the entrance. Two streams of water a few inches deep flowed on either side of the floor and water dripped from the ceiling. The cool air flowing out of the tunnel was welcome on this hot day.
Stumphouse Tunnel is managed by the City of Walhalla, SC as part of a recreation area.
The Cross Keys Plantation wasn’t on our list of potential stops on our recent mid-state driving tour. However, we made a quick u-turn to check out this unexpected sight.
The property is owned by the Union County Museum but wasn’t open so I only took images from the road. The white plaque at the gable peak has the build date of 1812 along with two crossed skeleton keys.
The other end of the house has just one chimney, partly hidden by a tree.
The intricate brick work is fascinating, especially in the chimney.
The bricks varied in colors and the top several rows on the front of the house appear to be of a different era.
The plantation home is the centerpiece of Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site in Union, SC. Four Magnolia trees thought to be over 200 years old screen the front of the building from the road. This is in contrast to many of the southern plantations that had tree-lined entrances designed to impress leading to the homes.
The ornamental front gate opens into a formal boxwood garden.
Once through the gate a visitor would be wowed by the porches and size of the home. The portico on the right side of the home was probably the more likely entry point for a visitor arriving by carriage.
At its peak in the 1860s the plantation covered over 5000 acres with corn and cotton as the primary crops and about 180 enslaved individuals.
There certainly is a lot of symmetry going on, if not a front to back mirror image. I regret not taking the inside tour.
From the SC State Park website:
Gist family members lived in the mansion from about 1811 to 1889. It remained untouched during the Civil War as there were no battles, retreating armies, military quarters or skirmishes in the area. From the 1890s to the 1930s, the mansion deteriorated significantly. In the 1940s, it was purchased and restored by Clyde Franks, who sold it to the state in 1960.
This State Historic Site interprets the family life and political legacy of William Henry Gist, often called South Carolina’s “Secession Governor,” serving from 1858-1860. With its mix of Georgian and Greek Revival architectural styles, the former family mansion stands as a fine example of an antebellum home.
Cypress Gardens, a 170 acre preserve in Monks Corner, was on our list of places to visit when we first visited South Carolina in January 2016. Unfortunately, it had been completely destroyed in October 2015 by the “thousand year flood.” Promises to reopen over the next three years were changed as setbacks to repairs came with Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Tropical Storm Irma in 2017 and the January snowstorm of 2018.
At long last Berkeley County has overcome the weather and bureaucratic delays, reopening the park in April. After giving them a few weeks to work out the kinks we’ve now had our first excursion there and fittingly, it started raining as we pulled into the parking lot.
Not deterred we started with a guided boat ride through the black water swamp to get a feel for the park layout. It was neat being down close to the water surface and another time I’d take the self-guided (paddle yourself in a small flat bottom boat) so I could stop where I wanted.
Plants are being allowed to come back on their own but the management actively is removing the thriving duck weed and creating compost from it.
We saw a few alligators including some under a year old, snakes and song birds. Hopefully wading birds and other wildlife will return as the landscape heals.
A few small islands throughout the swamp had cultivated flowers. I don’t know if these somehow survived all the weather events or have been recently planted.
Walking trails around the swamp and into the woods, a butterfly house, a combo aquarium/reptile center, and numerous gardens round out the attractions.