Experience The Island Spirit
Edisto is one of South Carolina's largest barrier islands, located approximately 45 miles south of Charleston and east of Walterboro. Historic Highway 174 stretches across the Island through moss-hung ancient oaks, unspoiled marshes, and rich agricultural land. The North and South Edisto Rivers border two edges of the Island, connected by the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway on opposite sides.
Evidence of Edisto island's historic legacy begins with artifacts from the Island's original inhabitants, the Edistow Indians, and the remains of an oyster shell mound, known as the Shell Bank, on state park property. The first Europeans to arrive on Edisto were Spaniards, and they named their island retreat "Oristo." A Jesuit mission briefly operated on the banks of ScottCreek, but the Spanish never settled permanently. In 1674, Edisto Island was secured for England when the Earl of Shaftesbury "purchased" the Island from the Edistows. Englishman Paul Grimball was issued a grant of 600 acres along the North Edisto Rivers where he built his home, the first on the Island. Unfortunately the house was left in ruins in 1686 when Spanish pirates marauded the property. In 1714, additional settlers arrived and funds were appropriated for construction for the King's Highway-sections of which are still traveled today.
Agricultural ventures on Edisto began with an attempt at cultivating the famous Carolina gold rice. However, due to the salinity of the low-lying water, production of this crop proved to be unsuccessful. Indigo was then introduced and, for a short time, prosperity ensued. High bonuses paid by the English government ceased with the start of the American Revolution. This brought about the need for a new crop, a new money-maker. The king of all cotton, Sea Island Cotton, was that crop and it flourished in Edisto's rich, fertile soil. The planters flourished too, accumulating unimaginable wealth. This era, known as Edisto's Golden Age, ended with the Civil War. The arrival of the boll weevil in the early 1900's demolished the lucrative cotton crop, and today, the former cotton fields harvest vegetables and melons while the majestic homes and churches of a more affluent age remain.
Edisto Beach State Park opened nearly 60 years ago, putting Edisto on the map of summer attractions.
The state park, expanded many times over the years, now includes beach and marsh-side camping, cabins, a boat ramp and dock, and a nature interpretive center. Thousands of visitors are welcomed to Edisto each year. All who visit Edisto experience the comfort and rejuvenation of the island lifestyle, and beach and island residents are committed to moderate, well planned growth that is focused on retaining that spirit.