Historic Brookgreen Gardens, a tour of the Lowcountry Center

The story of the land…

The Lowcountry Center at Brookgreen Gardens features drawings, maps, artifacts, pictures and stories from 1580s to present. Brookgreen Gardens is open daily and admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $6 children 4-12 and free for those 3 and under.

“Draw to life one of each kind of thing that is strange to us in England. . . . all strange birds, beasts, fishes, plants, herbs, trees, and fruits. . . . also the figures and shapes of men and women in their apparel, as also their manner of weapons in every place as you shall find them differing.” – Royal British instructions to John White on a 1582 exploratory voyage

16th century Native Americans lifestyle on the Carolina Coast

1590 drawings of Native Americans living in North Carolina by John White


John White’s drawings, later made famous by Theodore de Bry engraving adaptations, became the most important source of information to Europeans rulers, explorers, settlers and regular folks about the Native Americans lifestyle, social makeup and beliefs.

They showed (through the eye of the “white man”) the flora and fauna that inhabited the area, the village structure, house construction techniques, hunting, harvesting and cooking tools.

They showed the social hierarchy, the roles played by men and women, young and old; how they dressed, how they celebrated and how they dealt with death and the after life.

Learn more about John White’s drawings here.

Rice cultivation was a very complex, time consuming and labor intensive process. Fields needed to be flooded and the water lever to remain stationary. Sometimes the rice needed to be kept completely dry.

Rice flood gates system deployed at Brookgreen Plantation

The rice field trunk was invented by Egyptians more than 6,000 years ago

So ditches were dug, banks were built around the rice fields and small flood gates called “trunks” were installed. People working and maintain the gates were called “trunk menders.”

Did you know? The Egyptians invented the rice field trunk more than 6,000 years ago!

It consisted of two floodgates built to regulate the flow of water. One gate was on the river side and ran through an earthen dike, the other was on the rice field side. The openings were hollowed out from tree trunks, usually cypress (hence the name).

This model was built by Capt. Frank M. Bechkam, who also constructed the two benches in the room with timber left over from the rebuilding of a rice gate on Cane Island in North Santee.

The Lowcountry Center showcases several farming tools used in the past centuries in the rice and turpentine productions. Examples include foot adze, draw knife, broad axe, hoe, rice threshing basket, grinding stone, sap collecting bowl etc.

Rice plantation and sap collecting equipment

18th and 19th centuries farming tools used at Brookgreen Plantation

There is gold in them thar’ trees!

Demand for naval stores products in the United States began in early 1700s to supply the growing shipping industry of the colonies. Turpentine, rosin, tar and pitch were used in various applications in the ship building process.

The turpentine making process in late 19th century

1890s photograph of turpentine workers and distilleries


Tar and pitch were used for water proofing and sealing rope ends; turpentine as a preservative and solvent, and rosin for grease, water proofing and foundry work.

All naval stores were made derivatives extracted from pine trees, especially the Longleaf and Slash varieties abundant along the Carolina coast.

By the early 1800s, the “Tar Heelers” of North Carolina had expanded into the forests of Horry County. By 1850, 12 stills existed on the banks of Waccamaw River. Turpentine workers striped the bark from pine trees and collected the sticky rosin in barrels which were hauled by mule cart to turpentine distilleries for processing.

After Civil War and Reconstruction most of the Lowcountry rice plantations shattered. Ironically this ensured the preservation of extensive natural areas for future generations.

Early 20th duck hunting expedition in the Lowcountry

Waterfowl hunting bonanza on the former rice plantations in the 1920s


At the end of 19th century, real estate promoters described the local climate as beneficial for tuberculosis sufferers.

They advertised the plantations as a dreamland for recreational hunting and fishing. Rich people from the North flocked in the bought most of the plantations.

Anna and Archer Huntington vowed to provide safe havens for waterfowl birds at their properties in Virginia and South Carolina. Other owners encouraged visiting ducks and geese, but ended up harvested them for sport.

Now through August 12, you can enjoy an evening cruise down the creeks of the former rice plantation. Tickets are $7 in addition to general garden admission.

Fun things to do with kids inside Brookgreen Gardens

Play with clay, draw and pet live native animals at The Children Discovery Room

• See some wading magnificent birds at the Cypress Swamp Aviary

• Admire wild animals and rare farm breeds at the Lowcountry Zoo

• Check out the rice fields and the slave overseer’s house and kitchen ruins on the Lowcountry Trail. Beware, there several ghosts haunting the plantation and the nearby beaches.

The “Infernal Machine”! HL Hunley’s submarine amazing artifacts and good-luck charms

The find of the century…

The Charleston Harbor is home to the country’s most intriguing Civil War naval battle. Yes, I’m talking about the one and only HL Hunley, also called “The Diver”, “The Infernal Machine”, “The Fish Boat”, “The Peripatetic Coffin”. The Hunley was the world’s first combat submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship, and recently, I got a chance to see it.

The museum is open Saturday 9AM – 5PM and Sunday noon – 5PM. Admission is $12 (free for kids 5 years and under) and includes a 20 minutes guided talk on top of the 90,000 gallons tank holding the Hunley, access to interactive exhibits and two full size

Inside the submarine hull

Playing inside Hunley full size replica from the TNT movie

submarines replicas, and viewing of the Natl Geographic “Raising the Hunley” documentary.

Among the 3,000 artifacts recovered from the mysterious HL Hunley submarine, the most incredible findings are those not yet displayed to the public:

Like Lt. George Dixon’s watch, that when opened had the hands still in position!…or crewmen brain tissue inside the skulls, soft tissue in the shoes, and most amazing discovery of all… fingerprints!

However, here are the cool ones you can see at the HL Hunley Lauch Conservation Center (historic data taken from the exhibits):

The power of love
For more than a century a romantic legend has captured the hearts and minds of countless Civil War history buffs: the story of the lucky $20 gold coin that saved the life of Lt. George Dixon, the captain who lead HL Hunley in its final mission.

It was believed, his sweetheart, Queenie Bennet gave Dixon a 1860-minted gold coin as a good luck charm. And the coin delivered!

$20 gold coin replica HL Hunley Museum

The lucky coin that dodged a bullet during Civil War Shiloh battle

During the 1862 Battle of Shiloh, he was shot point blank. A bullet ripped into the pocket of his trousers and struck the center of the coin. The impact was said to have left the gold piece bent, with the bullet embedded in it.

Was the legend true or merely a romantic tale?

The world got the answer 137 years later. In 2000, during the excavation of the H.L. Hunley, the gold coin was discovered next to the remains of Lt. George Dixon. It was deeply indented and carried traces of lead!

The front of the coin features the Lady Liberty image, while the back has the Shield and Eagle symbol and a hand inscription:

Shiloh
April 6, 1862
My life Preserver
G. E. D.

The above photo is from the coin replica displayed inside the HL Hunley Museum. It was cast from the original. Now, for $10, you can purchase a similar gold coin replica from the Friends of the Hunley online store.

Dixon’s gold and diamond ring and brooch…another charm, another love story?
While excavating the fragile waterlogged textiles of Lt. Dixon the Hunley research team uncovered two enigmatic pieces of gold jewelry:

9 diamonds 24 carat gold ring and 37 small diamonds brooch

Exquisite diamond gold jewelry on a Civil War secret mission?


• A 18-24 carat gold ring with 9 large diamonds It has no inscriptions or jewelry marks and resembles a ring for a rich and more mature woman.

• A gold brooch with 37 small diamonds. Originally pinned to a small piece of fabric, it appears to have been wrapped in cloth along with the ring, most likely for safekeeping.

The brooch featured a popular 1820s design symbolizing wealth and high status for its owner.

It is believed the two pieces were made from different jewelers. Together they represented quite a fortune during Civil War.

Why did Dixon carry such expensive jewelry with him in a perilous battle? Whom did they belong to? Were they also a lucky charm gift?

It was known that Lt. Dixon was a “ladies man”….

A Union soldier fighting with the Confederates on board Hunley?!
On April 27, 2001, the excavation team was surprised to discover a Union ID tag inside one of the most secret Confederate naval weapon!

Prized enemy capture discovered inside HL Hunley

Another Civil War mystery solved ~130 years later: Ezra Chamberlain's medallion found with a Confederate soldier inside the HL Hunley submarine


The ID tag was found on the skull of one of the Hunley crewmen, bearing the name and class of Ezra Chamberlain, Private, 7th Connecticut Infantry, Union Forces.

Was Ezra onboard that fateful night? Did he switch sides?

Was he a prisoner and thus forced to operate the Hunley?

Was Ezra’s ID tag picked up from the battlefield by a Hunley crewman as a souvenir of war?

Mystery Solved! Early 2002, forensic experts found that the Hunley crewman wearing the tag was in his 30s, while Ezra would have been only 24 at the time of the mission. Further research suggests that Pvt. Chamberlain was killed in action 7 months earlier, during the Fort Wagner battle on Morris Island.

The brass medallion was indeed a battlefield souvenir picked up by Joseph Ridgaway.

A candle in the wind…
This simple white candle was used to light the interior of the submarine.

Mind boggling discoveries from H.L. Hunley submarine Civil War battle

Only one candle lit the cramped 4 foot interior ...here it is more than a century later

When the flame of the candle diminished, the crew knew the oxygen level in the hull was getting low.

Before the Hunley’s last mission, Lt. Dixon put the crew to rigorous training to test their physical and emotional endurance.

On one occasion the men hat to wait at their stations for 2 and half hours, in complete darkness, while the submarine was resting on the ocean floor.

This exercise proved extremely helpful during the mission since most of the navigation was done after the candle light blew off.

To walk in their shoes…
When found this leather shoe still had bones and tissue inside, more than 130 years after the submarine sinking!

Priceless Civil War blockade naval warfare memorabilia

A shoe from the past...another inspirational human touch from HL Hunley submarine

Where is smoke, is (explosion) fire…
Three wooden tobacco pipe bowls were found inside the Hunley, with one still holding a tobacco wad! Among the personal possessions scientists also found the remains of a delicate matchstick.

Civil War Charleston Harbor Blockade memorabilia

One of three tobacco pipes found inside the Fish Boat

Dress for success…
On May 3rd, 1995, NUMA (National Underwater Marine Agency) archaeologist

Original uniforms of the NUMA crew who discovered the submarine

The suit of the man who first touched the Hunley

Harry Pecorelli, wore this wetsuit during his first dive to investigate an object on the ocean floor.

Upon touching the sub, he radioed back to the boat, “I don’t know what it is, but it is definitely not the Hunley.”

The structure proved to be the Hunley, and Harri Pecorelli became the first person to touch the elusive submarine in more than 130 years!

Then Harry was affectionately nicknamed “the first person to have never found the Hunley.”

Check out this cool animation of the “2000 Raising of Hunley” provided on the museum official website.

A face to remember
The human remains underwent comprehensive analysis by some of the world’s most noted forensic anthropologists.

The real faces of the HL Hunley volunteers

The heroic crew of HL Hunley who sunk the Housatonic

The results were remarkable showing the crew spatial distribution and the facial reconstruction of each member.

A biographical and physical portrait was assembled for each man who perished in the 1864 attack.

In 2004 the crew was buried with full military honors at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. They were laid to rest next to the two previous crews who also died while serving on HL Hunley.

2011 update! Hunley is sitting in an upright position almost 150 years after its sinking.
“Instead of looking like an artifact, it now looks like a stealth weapon,” said Sen. Glenn McConnell, chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission. The newly exposed side of the hull may finally reveal the answers needed in solving the century old mystery…”we are seeing some tantalizing clues on that side,” said Hunley lead archaeologist Maria Jacobsen.

Relive the Civil War’s true “Mission Impossible” with the HL Hunley in Charleston!

Free and romantic Hilton Head attractions: mysterous Leamington Lighthouse, a ghost legend and military treasure

Featured on the National Register of Historic Places, the Leamington Lighthouse, is a legendary historic site on Hilton Head Island.

1881 Lighthouse belived to be haunted by light keeper's daughter ghost

1881 Lighthouse belived to be haunted by light keeper's daughter ghost


Originally known as the Hilton Head Range Light Station, the unusual skeleton and cypress wood structure was built to guide ships into Port Royal Sound.

It is the only historic lighthouse on Hilton Head Island and one of few surviving lighthouses in South Carolina

Historic Highlights (courtesy of Friends of the Lighthouse)

• In 1863 Union troops built the island first light, but only 6 years later the original tower was destroyed by a storm.

• In 1881 a pair of range lights was erected to guide vessels into Port Royal Sound. The front light stood 35 feet high right above the keeper’s house while the rear light was served by the 95 feet high skeleton-like tower. The cypress wood lantern and watch room were reached by climbing 112 steps.

• In 1884, a mobile front range light was constructed to track the shifting channel.

Lighthouse cistern ruin

Lighthouse cistern ruin


• In 1932 the lights were decommissioned and during World War II the surrounding area became Camp McDougal, a training facility for Marines men, dogs and horses.

• In the 1960s, the keeper’s dwellings were moved to Harbour Town at Sea Pines Plantation Resort.

Currently, one dwelling serves as a Bakery and Cafe, while the other is home to the Sea Pines Real Estate Company.

• In the mid 1980s the lighthouse was incorporated into the new Arthur Hills Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes Resort.

• Today the only remains are the old brick oil house and the cistern.

The Lady in Blue Ghost Story… (from “Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts”, by Terrance Zepke, 1999)

In 1898 a powerful hurricane washed over the island. Keeper Adam Fripp rushed to protect the lights.

Drenched in heavy rain, Fripp made his way to the tower and up the spiral staircase. A powerful gust of wind shattered one of the glass panes in the lantern room.

The strain of the ascent coupled with the shock of the exploding glass was more than Fripp’s heart could handle.

What was once Camp McDougal WWII, a Marines training site

What was once Camp McDougal WWII, a Marines training site

His daughter Caroline noticed her father’s prolonged absence and went in search of him.

She discovered him inside the tower who, with a last breath, implored her to “keep the light burning no matter how dangerous the storm.”

Several days passed before anyone made it to the island. Caroline had managed to tend the light throughout the storm, but her sorrow and exhaustion proved too much, as she died shortly thereafter.

People say that on dark rainy nights a girl in a blue dress may be seen on the beach or near the skeleton tower signaling with her arms to “Go back… Go back”.

Avid for more ghost stories and romantic sites? Drive to Sea Pines Plantation to wander around the haunted Stoney-Baynard Ruins and 4,000 years old mystery-filled Indian Shell Ring.

“A license to steal” my delirious Pirates of the Carribean adventure at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach

Arrrgh! Whatever happened to Queen’s Anne Revenge? Wanna rub elbows with 18th century VIPs like Blackbeard, Captain Morgan and Edward Lowe? Well come down to Myrtle Beach Ripley’s Aquarium, a haunted house filled with odd sea creatures, outlaws and monster sharks!

Welcome to the Pirates World at Ripley's Aquarium!

Welcome to the Pirates World at Ripley's Aquarium!

Sea masters, privateers and just brilliant marketing pioneers…a world of mystery, wits and terror. Most romanticized the pirates’ “rise against the machine”, others spited it for their ruthless and savage ways. Either way, the buccaneers stories were the first blockbusters fascinating the mankind to this day.

Pirates Exhibit highlights, funny facts and trivia:

Extreme Fear Factor
Pirates preferred to rule through terror and worked hard building their brand. Contrary to popular belief most pirates hated fighting! Fights led to injuries, deaths and major treasures loss. So they often engaged in sadistic rituals that killed all but few captives…’cause “dead men told no stories”

Legend has it Edward Lowe chopped off the lips of an opposing captain then forced him to watch his 32-crew being decimated before his eyes.

Ruthless intimidation tactics

Ruthless intimidation tactics


Don’t blame it all on the pirates. Most of the tactics were taken from the Royal Navy training book. It was said that service in the Navy “was like life in prison, with the addition danger of drowning”!

Not all pirates were fond of torturing. Edward England for one left his opponent go free after he won a fierce battle. His crew didn’t appreciate it and threw him out! England spent his last days as a beggar on the streets of Madagascar. Nice guys finish last after all…

Do you have what it takes to be a buccaneer?
The successful ones (those that lived pass 30s) possessed charisma, brains, brawns, nautical skills and lots of luck. Here’s a pirate typical profile: 27 years old, uneducated (those who could read became captains!), low social status, a criminal record, and sea life experience. Interested? Here are some possible pirate career paths:
• Captain – educated (aka knows how to read). You’re in charge only during missions
• Quartermaster – “chief of justice”
• Cook – low culinary standards yet you’re expected to sew some skin!
• Surgeon – rarely on board, most likely the cook and carpenter played doctor!
• Master gunner – bomb baby bomb!
• Musician – well regarded to cheer up the crew.
• Carpenters, boatswains, shipwrights – the browns doing all the heavy lifting and the never ending repair work…

Runaway Design Show take notice!

Pirate Flag Designs

Pirate Flag Designs

Pirates boasted incredible Black Flag designs and a buoyant outwear fashion. I guess if you gotta kill then do it with style! :-) Bond, James Bond…

Here is a slideshow with more exhibit photos…just in case you need more convincing!

Ripley’s Aquarium hours, admission and location
The Aquarium is open Sun – Thu 9AM to 7PM and Fri – Sat 9AM to 9PM. General admission includes dive shows and special exhibition hall (sales tax is additional):
• Adults: $18.99
• Children (6-11): $9.99
• Children (2-5): $3.99
There are group discounts and Ripley’s attractions combo tickets available. Call 1-800-734-8888 or visit their website for details.

Ripley’s Aquarium is located inside Broadway at the Beach off of 29th North Avenue.

What else is fun for kids around Myrtle Beach for under $10?

Blackbeard Ruthless Pirate of the Carribean!

Blackbeard Ruthless Pirate of the Carribean!

• Watch grumpy longhorns kicking emus, undecided black bears, roaring lions and impassable Sony and Cher at Waccatee Zoo the “Beast Place” on the beach…($8 adults, $4 kids)

Mirror, mirror on the wall, haven’t I been here before?“…lose yourself at the awesomely fun Mirror Maze located inside Barefoot Landing shopping center ($7 multiple entries all day admission)

• Yearlings, toddlers, and babies of all ages kick it up a notch at the Children Museum (you can even hunt for diamonds!) ($7 everyone)

The Gators are here…no really they are…at Huntington Beach State Park at least. ($5 adults, under 5 get in FREE).

Ahoy Mates! Ahoy!

Brookgreen Gardens’ Bloodstain Barn and Atalaya Castle’s Gold-Watcher – mystery tales at Huntington Beach Park

Art lovers, sculpture aficionados and nature enthusiasts watch out! As you stroll Brookgreen Gardens’ peaceful trails showered by a rainbow of extravagant floral arrangements, as you admire one of the most magnificent outdoor sculptures collection in the country, it’s hard to imagine the pain and suffering soaked in these grounds.

“Bloodstains of the dead…Tread them down; walk them out; cover them up. All in vain!”

Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens

Yes, is slavery blood and all the misery that came along with it. During the Civil War this land was part of the Brookgreen Plantation.
Most of the time the owners were out traveling, leaving the business operations to Fraser the overseer. And Fraser “never failed to draw blood”.

“When someone is in the bull pen they have to take a ride on the pony…The overseer gave my mama forty lashes with the strap…A pool of mama’s blood was on the barn floor.”

Once freedom came to Waccamaw River the people tried hunting Fraser down for payback. He was never found. Yet the blood stains in the barn were still there, a painful reminder of their ordeal.
“We didn’t want to pass through the barn…We tried to get rid of them. Tried to wash them off. Wash! Scrub! Stains came back. We walked back and forth…Stomp! Stomp! Stains came back.

Brookgreen Gardens Yellow Sea

Brookgreen Gardens Yellow Sea


We wondered for Christ’s sake why the bloodstains didn’t leave…years passed and still the blood remained”

More than 50 years later, in 1930, Archer Huntington came in, bought the plantation and transformed it into Brookgreen Gardens. “He saw the bloodstains and he tore down the barn. Yep. That was the first thing Huntington did when he bought the plantation…Until he did that, the bloodstains stayed right there.”

Joe, the gold-watcher at Atalaya

Here’s another story that sheds light into Mr. and Mrs. Huntington character and the incredible Atalaya Castle. As a young boy “Archer’s energy seemed unlimited, and his quick mind grasped everything he saw and read…He intended to spend his live giving his father fortune away.”

People in the area were enthuziastic about the jobs prospects from the start of the outdoor museum (Brookgreen Gardens) and a future house (Atalaya). It was Depression time after all. “When they earned a few dollars, they looked at them and counted them, and figure out how far they would go. They didn’t go very far.”

Joe was one of them. He got a job as loading and removing sand but he failed miserably…wrecking the truck on the first day right in front of Mr. Huntington. He was fired on the spot.

Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach

Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach

Joe persisted and few weeks later got a second chance. He split logs, stacked the wood and kept the fire burning at the more than 30 fireplaces inside Atalaya. There were rumors the Huntington hoarded large quantities of money at Atalaya, but Joe saw none of it, for a while at least…

Few weeks later Anna Huntington needed a “scrawny horse” to carve the statue of Don Quixote. Joe found a “nag with bones showing through its rough coat and a head hung nearly to its knees”. Mrs. Huntington was delighted and she pledged to nurse the horse back to health. Joe volunteered for the task. Things looked much rosier with his employers.

Indeed, at Christmas night his trustworthiness was put to the test. Archer Huntington asked Joe to help him move a heavy oak table into the master bathroom. “As the glowing fire reflected on the table, the table itself seemed about to burst into flame. For there, on the table, were stacks of gold, real gold, coins…varying in size from a watermelon seed to a silver dollar”

“Joe, I want you to remain here in the bathroom and keep an eye on it. I will come for it in the morning”. And so he did. To this day, Joe doesn’t know where the gold came from or where it went. He only knows that Huntington trusted him with his fortune that night. “A job that started out so badly ended with each man respecting, and even liking, each other.”

Come to Brookgreen Gardens and Atalaya at Huntington Beach State Park for a once in a lifetime inspirational vacation!

Disclaimer: All the quotes in this post are from Nancy Rhine’s riveting book “Tales of the South Carolina Lowcountry”, an engaging collection of folklore, ghost haunts, and real stories from remote Lowcountry lanes old-timers.

Exciting Events at Musgrove Mill State Park: Battle of Blackstock by Candlelight, Ghost Tales, Christmas at Rose Hill Plantation

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site’s was the scene of a bloody American Revolution battle. “On Aug. 19, 1780, 200 Patriots rode to strike what they thought was an equal number of Loyalists at Musgrove Mill.

Musgrove Mill State Park - free admission

Musgrove Mill State Park - free admission

Instead, they found themselves badly outnumbered, the Tories having been joined by 300 provincial regulars from the British post at Ninety Six. Retreat was impossible, a frontal assault suicidal. So the Patriot forces took a strong defensive position and lured the Loyalists into a fierce fight that turned into a near rout after the British attack collapsed.” – Musgrove Mill State Historic Site.

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site regularly holds special events, including encampments and living history programs. Here are some exciting events coming up this fall and over the Holidays:

Archaeology Day at Musgrove’s Mill – October 18, 2008, 10 AM – 4:00 PM
Have you ever wondered how archaeologists find and identify artifacts from American Revolutionary War battlefields like Musgrove’s Mill? Visit Musgrove Mill State Historic Site to learn about the methods used and what studies have been done at the site to shed light on this important battle. Project archaeologists will be on-site showing and discussing how they found and identified artifacts. Archaeological tours will be offered throughout the day and kids will be “digging” for artifacts.

Tales of Union County at Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site – October 24 and 25, 2008, 7 PM – 10 PM
Journey into the spooky past with the “Tales of Union County”! Enjoy local ghostly tales and spine-chilling legends in a family setting with marshmallow and wiener roasts, apple bobbing, and other fall festival activities. Sip a cup of hot chocolate, or hot apple cider by the flickering light of the campfire listening to folklore and legends of the Upstate. There may even be a ghost or two…

Battle Of Blackstock’s Anniversary Celebration at Blackstock Battlefield Historic Site – November 22, 2008, 1 PM – 3 PM

Revolutionary War rifles replicas

Revolutionary War rifles replicas

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site will be presenting the Battle of Blackstock’s Anniversary Celebration, featuring an interpretive talk, a Ranger-led tour of the battlefield, a firing salute, and commemorations by the Daughters of the American Revolution.


The Battle By Candlelight
- December 13, 2008, 6 PM – 8 PM $4 adults, $3 seniors (65 and older), children 15 and under FREE
Experience Musgrove Mill State Historic Site in the dark! The event will feature candle-lit tours of the Musgrove Mill battlefield and historic presentations of the Battle of Musgrove’s Mill from the Patriot and British point of view.

Horse-shoe Robinson illustration by E.O.C. Darley

Horse-shoe Robinson illustration by E.O.C. Darley


While at the park learn about Mary Musgrove (the mill’s owner daughter, whose house ruins can still be seen inside the park) and other brave South Carolina women who sacrificed their life to help the Patriots win many battles during Revolutionary War. Mary became legendary with the 1835 publishing of the romantic novel “Horse-shoe Robinson: A Tale of the Tory Ascendancy”.

Christmas at Rose Hill Plantation – December 12-14, 2008, 6 PM – 8:30 PM, $5 per person
Come experience what Christmas was really like in the years before the Civil War. Enjoy the Rose Hill Plantation as it might have been in the antebellum era. The mansion will be decorated for the holiday season during the month of December, and there will be a special Evening Open House the weekend before Christmas: December 21 and 22 from 5 PM until 8 PM, and December 23 from 4 PM until 6 PM

Where
Musgrove Mill State Park is located off I-26 near Clinton, less than half an hour drive from Greenville. Admission to the park is FREE. Operation hours: Park 9 AM – 6 PM daily; Visitor Center 10 AM – 4 PM Monday through Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM Saturday and Sunday. More information at (864) 938-0100. Here is the custom Google Map with some incredibly fun and mostly free family attractions in the Upstate.

History buffs take the short drive to Cowpens National Battleground park, site to the most important Revolutonary War battle of the Southern Campaign. Admission is free.

Experience the extraordinary American Revolution battles at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site!

Things to see on St. Helena island near Beaufort: Penn Center and Chapel of Ease (possible the Land’s End ghost!)

Penn Center, an African-American cultural center and a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1862 as the first school in the South for the education of freed slaves. Along with the Bailey museum it is a testimony of the Gullah People’s rich culture and history. The permanent exhibit showcases some of the oldest photographs of African-Americans, the original 1863 school bell and many artifacts related to the life on Sea Island. Martin Luther King Jr. use to retreat here during the 1960s.

Free historic sites to visit on St Helena Island Beaufort SC

Penn Center School main building

The Penn Center is located on St. Helena island, only 15 minutes drive from Beaufort, historic Port Royal and beautiful Hunting Island State Park. The Bailey museum is open Monday to Saturday from 11 AM to 4 PM and the admission fee is $4 for adults and $2 for children and seniors. For more information on current educational programs and a calendar of events visit the Penn Center website.

Site of the annual Gullah festival

Penn Center historic site in the heart of Gullah country

If you want to experience first hand the mystical Gullah art and food come to the Gullah Festival that will be held at the Waterfront Park in Beaufort May 23-25. Admission for the entire weekend is $20. For more info visit www.gullahfestival.org.

Nearby Penn Center on Land’s End road is the Chapel of Ease. This tiny church, a perfect examply of tabby construction, was built in 1748 for the convenience of plantation owners too far away to attend service in Beaufort.

Fine example of prerevolutionary church made of primarily of tabby.

Take a close look at the graveyard and the mysterious mausoleum creeping in the back. This is the sight of the inexplicable Land’s End Light. “…The light rises up in the air like a bouncing ball of fire. It lingers long enough to squelch any idea it was just your imagination or a hallucination.”

Chapel of Ease Mausoleum on St. Helena Island

Some say a mysterious light appears here


Over the years many local residents and prominent business people claim to have seen the light. Even researchers from Duke University came to study the phenomenon in the 70s.

Most people believe the light has to do with the spirit of a soldier stationed at Fort Fremont, which was built to defend Port Royal from Spanish attacks.

Funny thing is not one shot was ever fired from the fort! Now the fort ruins are on a private property and inaccessible to the public.

Read more about the Land’s End mystery from Terrence Zepke’s book “Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina. Check out some famous Lowcountry Ghosts on my previous post.

If you like seeing old South Carolina churches then you must visit the Old Sheldon Church Ruins, a truly inspirational historical site around Beaufort.

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