Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

Visit untamed beauty on a former rice plantation.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge alligator
American Alligator image by Becky Mathews.

The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of opportunities to explore and enjoy the great outdoors from sunrise to sunset every day. You can observe and photograph wildlife, fish, or during the season, hunt white-tailed deer.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge egret.
Egret image by Joe DeLorme.

Make the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center your first stop when visiting the refuge. Located on Hwy 17 between Hardeeville and Savannah, it is open Monday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but closed Sundays and all federal holidays.

Established in 1927, the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge protects old rice fields & numerous species of wildlife including ducks, birds, deer, & alligators. The 4-mile driving tour is free and open sunrise to sunset.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge former rice field
Former rice fields are preserved at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.

The Visitor Center provides visitors a more enhanced refuge experience. Friendly and knowledgeable staff and volunteers are always on-hand at the front desk to help get you where you need to go, as well as answer any questions you may have.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge rice trunk
Rice trunks are still in use.

While there be sure to watch the 10-minute video about the refuge, its history, and current management practices. The center also includes interactive exhibits to further your understanding of the refuge’s vast wildlife and habitat resources.

Outside you’ll find the Beech Hill Trail, which leads visitors along a short, paved interpretive pathway that borders the edge of a cypress swamp. There’s also a pollinator garden filled with plants that are beneficial to butterflies, bees, dragonflies and more. It’s most active from late spring through fall.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge egret
Egret photo by Vlad Hrybok.

A bird sanctuary contains a small arrangement of birdbaths, misters, and feeders that attract a variety of birds throughout the year; especially during the spring and fall when many birds are migrating through the refuge.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge rice field
Photo by April Zarzycki.

The Visitor Center has clean, spacious restrooms and ample parking for vehicles, including buses and RVs. Be sure to use the facilities here, because the refuge is a short drive away, and has no restroom facilities.

After a trip to the Visitor Center turn left on Hwy 17, then left again onto SC 170 to head to the refuge for a driving, hiking or cycling tour.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge wood stork
Wood Stork image by Julie Strickland.

Wildlife viewing is excellent for photography, especially during fall, winter, and spring, along the 4-mile Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive and adjacent hiking/bicycling trails.

The American alligator is king here, with upwards of 25 individuals having been reported seen during one visit. Many species of wading and marsh birds can also be spotted here throughout the year.

The trails adjacent to the Kingfisher Pond Recreation Area are great for watching woodland songbirds such as prothonotary warblers and American redstarts during spring and fall migrations. Summertime brings in purple gallinules in the managed impoundments and swallow-tailed kites soaring in the sky; both species nest on the Refuge.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge blue heron
Blue Heron image by Pamela Clisbee.

The Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive affords photographers of all skill levels excellent opportunities to photograph wildlife, especially American alligators and a variety of different wading birds. Visitors may also utilize the photo blind located along the Cistern Trail.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge drive
The drive into Savannah NWR.

The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is a part of the Savannah Coastal Refuges GeoTrail! There is a special geocache for each refuge in our complex to help you learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex!

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge blue heron
Blue Heron photo by Eduardo Burgos.

For more information on other attractions in the area visit the South Carolina Lowcountry Tourism Website.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge trail map
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge trail map. Note: this map also shows the location of the Visitor Center.
Carmen Pinckney
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Beaufort’s Hero Robert Smalls and Tabernacle Baptist Church

Robert grew up behind this house on Beaufort’s Prince Street.
Image from Wikimedia.

Robert Smalls was born into slavery on April 5, 1839. Robert and his mother lived in a two-room shack behind 511 Prince Street in Beaufort. Robert was treated very well by his owners, Henry and Jane McKee, for it was rumored that Mr. McKee was Robert’s father.

Picture of a young Robert Smalls
Young Robert Smalls
Image from

Early Years

At the request of his mother, twelve-year-old Robert was sent to Charleston and hired out as a laborer. Most of his earnings were returned to his owner, but he could keep $1 per week for himself. He first worked in a hotel and as a lamplighter. His love of the ocean led him to find work on the docks. He began as a longshoreman and worked his way up to wheelman. His experience gave him great knowledge of ships and the Charleston harbor. Robert married Hannah Jones in 1856 and started a family. He was only 17. After a time, his goal was to purchase their freedom, but the price was very steep for someone of his circumstance.

Photo of Robert Smalls as pilot of the Steamboat Planter
Robert Smalls, Pilot of the Steamboat Planter
Image from US Naval History and Heritage Command.

During the Civil War

The Civil War began with the Battle of Fort Sumter in April of 1861. The well-respected Robert was assigned to steer the CCS Planter, a Confederate military transport.

He piloted the Planter along the coast from South Carolina to Florida. Robert and the slave labor crew of the Planter were aware of the Federal blockade line just past the Charleston harbor.

In April of 1862, Robert began planning an escape. The following month, the Planter picked up four large guns that were bound for the Charleston harbor. They also took on 200 pounds of ammunition. The families of the crew were stationed nearby.

On the evening of May 12th, Robert and the rest of the crew were left unattended on the Planter. Smalls and seven of the eight slave crewmen escaped to the Union blockade. Smalls put on the captain’s uniform and straw hat. He sailed the Planter past the Southern Wharf and proceeded to pick up his wife, children and the families of other crewmen.

Robert guided the Planter past the Charleston harbor and Fort Sumter. He and his crew expertly headed straight for the Union Navy fleet. They replaced the Rebel flags with a white bedsheet. He surrendered the Planter and her cargo to the US Navy. Robert was just 23 years old.

Picture of a news article about Smalls
Robert Smalls, captain of the gunboat Planter, which was run out of Charleston in May 1862. Photograph from Library of Congress.

He quickly became known for his heroic actions. He joined the US Navy and earned much fame as a pilot. Word of his exploits was published throughout the north. He was then promoted and made the captain of the Planter.

Drawing of Robert Smalls and his boat
Image from

In 1864 Robert was voted an unofficial delegate to the Republican National Convention. He also spent time in Philadelphia. While there he learned to read and write and became a supporter of the Port Royal Experiment.

This was an effort to raise money to support the education of former slaves. It brought doctors and teachers to assist the former slaves into a new way of life. It also led to the founding of the Penn School.

Later picture of Robert Smalls
Yours truly Robert Smalls
Image from National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institute.

In December of 1864, Robert and the Planter made their way to Savannah while Sherman Marched to the Sea. In 1865 Robert sailed the Planter to the Charleston harbor where the American flag was returned to Fort Sumter.

After this ceremonial act, Robert retired from military life. He continued to pilot the Planter, but his missions turned humanitarian. He took food and supplies to freedmen as a member of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

Exterior view of Robert Smalls house
Robert Smalls House 511 Prince Street
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Back in Beaufort

Upon his return to Beaufort, Robert purchased the house where he was formerly a slave. One day, his previous owner Jane McKee, suffering from dementia, walked back to the house she had loved on Prince Street. Robert greeted her, brought her inside, cared for her and allowed her to remain there until her death.

Picture of Robert Smalls as a politician
Image from

Robert went on to become a successful businessman and politician. He had a distinguished career of public service including serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and four terms in the United States House of Representatives. Smalls also served as a major general in the state militia and later served as Port Collector for Beaufort.

Image of an older Robert Smalls
Image found on from public domain.

In 1915, at the age of 75, Robert died of malaria and diabetes. He was buried in the Tabernacle Baptist Churchyard in downtown Beaufort. A monument to Robert proudly stands beside the church. It is inscribed: “My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.” He made this statement to the South Carolina legislature in 1895.

Exterior view of Tabernacle Baptist Church
Tabernacle Baptist Church
Image by Carmen Pinckney.

Robert Smalls’ Legacy

Built in 1840, the Tabernacle Baptist Church was originally used as a meetinghouse and lecture room. In 1863, a 500 member African American congregation acquired the building and turned it into the church that is still in use today. This historic church and the Robert Smalls memorial statue are located at 901 Craven Street in historic downtown Beaufort.

Memorial statue of Robert Smalls
This bust of Robert Smalls is positioned proudly beside the Tabernacle Baptist Church in downtown Beaufort.
Image by Carmen Pinckney.

The astonishing true story of Robert Smalls’ journey from slave to Union hero and ultimately United States Congressman can be found in the book Be Free or Die. If you would like a copy, the Frampton Plantation gift shop keeps it in stock.

View of cover of book detailing Robert Smalls' life
Be Free or Die tells the amazing story of Robert Smalls’ escape from slavery to union hero.

For more information on Beaufort and her attractions visit .

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Bluffton’s Shell Art Trail

poster of decorated oyster shells

Giant oyster shells have popped up like daisies throughout historic Bluffton. The Shell Art Trail is a fun public art trail that both entertains and educates.  The cultural exhibit has 21 giant oyster shells placed throughout Bluffton. The shells have been uniquely painted by local artists. While hunting for shells, you will learn interesting oyster facts along the way.

map of shell art trail

The Shell Art Trail

First things first – download and print your Shell Art Trail Passbook. Review the map and plan your route. The passbook includes a map and questions that can be answered by reading the fact plaques located at each sculpture.

picture of information on the back of the shell art trail map

Spend a day roaming around downtown Bluffton in search of these beautiful sculptures, all of which contain interesting facts about oysters. Questions can be found on the back of the shell art passbook. Each can be answered by reading the plaque attached to each shell.

Be sure to take plenty of pictures along the way.
Tag @LowcountryOysterTrail, and use #LowCountryOysterTrail #HEARTofBluffton #SeeShellsinBluffton while completing the trail!

chicken salad blt at the sugarree

After the shell hunt, head into one of the wonderful restaurants for lunch. The Sugaree makes the best chicken salad BLT and bagel chips.

the store in downtown bluffton

After lunch be sure to head into some of the unique shopping opportunities downtown Bluffton has to offer.

downtown bluffton

For more information on Bluffton attractions visit , or day trip information

Photo credits: Carmen Pinckney and Lowcountry Oyster Trail Facebook page.

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ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge

Wildlife abounds in this Lowcountry sanctuary.

The Grove Plantation House
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge is home to a vast array of waterfowl, fish, shellfish and many other animals. It is also the home of Oak Grove Plantation House. Since 1992, the former rice plantation has been under the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge

According to the Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge’s website:

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge helps protect the largest undeveloped estuary along the Atlantic Coast, with rich bottomland hardwoods and fresh and saltwater marsh offering food and cover to a variety of wildlife.  ACE Basin stands for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers, which form the estuary and parts of the Refuge boundary. The entire basin encompasses more than 350,000 acres, of which the Refuge comprises just less than 12,000 acres.

wood stork

Part of the historical values of the ACE Basin were also protected. The refuge office, a former rice plantation house built in 1828, is one of a few antebellum mansions that survived the civil war in the ACE Basin area. Former owners ensured it would be preserved by placing it on the National Register of Historical Places. Undeveloped and unpolluted, the habitat remains diverse and extremely productive.

oak grove plantation house exterior
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Oak Grove Plantation House

The Oak Grove Plantation House is a fine example of late-Federal plantation-style architecture. It has polygonal rooms and projecting symmetrical bays. The elliptical fanlight over the front entry, double-hung windows, clapboard siding, and overall symmetry are all examples of this architectural style.

From the early 1700s to the mid-1800s, the plantation grew rice, producing much wealth. After the rice culture declined in the late 1800s, the plantation and many others in the area were used as hunting retreats. The area was tended wisely to preserve and protect the wildlife.

former rice fields at the refuge
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

A walk behind the house leads visitors to the former rice fields. Rows, dikes, trunks, and gates are still visible today. The paths are marked and meander around the rice fields and through wooded areas. Make sure to bring your camera and be on the lookout for wildlife.

rice trunk
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Rice Trunks

This is one of many rice trunks still in use today. Irrigation of rice fields was completed using great ingenuity to raise and lower water levels in the fields.

According to the South Carolina Encyclopedia:

The rice trunk was an ingenious, yet simple apparatus that made large-scale planting and irrigation control possible in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Rice trunks are wooden sluices installed in “banks” or dikes of rice fields for irrigation or flood control. They are long, narrow, wooden boxes made of thick planks, and each has a door at each end. Hung on uprights, the swinging doors, called gates, may be raised or lowered to drain or flood a field. When the gate on the river end of a trunk is raised, the water in the field runs into the river at low tide. As the tide turns, the rising water exerts pressure on the river gate and swings it tightly shut, preventing water from returning to the field. To flood the field, the process is reversed.

Rice, a particularly labor-intensive crop, was dependent on slaves for its cultivation. Following Emancipation, the rice industry collapsed.

marsh at the refuge
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin has long been known for its tremendous diversity of wildlife. The intricate network of marshes, tidal creeks, uplands, and wetlands has supported a myriad of plants and animals. The ACE Basin has long been home to a vast array of waterfowl, songbirds, fish, shellfish, and upland animals. Alligators, wood storks, bobcats, deer, and other animals live in the diverse habitats of the refuge.

view of a path in the refuge
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The refuge grounds are open daily, from sunrise to sunset.  The Administration Office is generally open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Brochures and maps are located on the ground floor of the Plantation House.

For more information on the Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge visit their WEBSITE.

For more information on what to do in the Edisto Island area visit or day trip information visit .

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Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary

Take a break from I-95 and walk on the wild side.

boardwalk in the walterboro wildlife sanctuary
Photo from visitwalterboro Instagram.

There is a beautiful wildlife sanctuary located in the middle of the historic and picturesque city of Walterboro, SC.

Easily reached from I-95, the Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place to leave the traffic behind, stretch your legs and enjoy nature. The sanctuary contains a network of boardwalks, hiking, biking and canoe trails that are perfect for viewing a diversity of a black water bottomland habitat.

Photo by dreamplango.

Wildlife is abundant in the sanctuary. Wild turkey, deer, raccoons, beaver, otter, mink, opossum, squirrels, fox, alligators and wildcats have been spotted here.

braided creek swamp
Photo by Brent Hughes.

History, culture, recreation and educational opportunities are waiting for you.  The 600-acre sanctuary features a “braided creek” swamp, which divides into an interlocking, or tangled network of several small branching and reuniting creeks, resembling a braid.

freshwwater pond at the walterboro wildlife sanctuary
Photo by Brent Hughes.

The 3.5-mile loop is paved and well maintained. The most historically significant path here follows the Colonial-era Charleston-to-Savannah Stagecoach Road. The former road still bears the remains of cypress built and long-fallen bridges.

Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

A Discovery Center has been constructed just a few miles away at 100 S. Jefferies Blvd. It includes a multi-purpose classroom, exhibit area and amphitheater.

swings along the trail
Photo by Brent Hughes.

From I-95, take Exit 53 and head into Walterboro. The first entrance is located to the left at the corner of S. Jefferies & Ivanhoe Roads.  There is also parking at 399 Detreville Street and Washington Street.

paved path at the refuge
Photo by Brent Hughes.

Bikes and dogs on leashes are welcome on the pathways of the sanctuary, so load up the family and make your way to this nature-based tourism gem that Trip Advisor gives 4 ½ stars. See you soon.

Map of the Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary

For more information on things to do in the Walterboro area visit .

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Historic Churches of Ridgeland

Ridgeland and its surrounding villages are home to many beautiful and historic churches. They are close enough in proximity to make a day trip to visit these special houses of worship.

Located in the Grahamville area you will find both Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal and its neighbor Euhaw Baptist Church.

Holy Trinity Church & Euhaw Baptist Church

historic church ridgeland -  holy trinity church
Holy Trinity Church – Photo by Beth Yarborough

The current Holy Trinity Church was built in 1858. Two earlier versions dating as far back as 1824 were built as chapels of ease for planters using the Grahamville area as a summer retreat village. The live oaks that surround the building were planted by the women of the congregation in the 1800s.

interior view of holy trinity church
Interior of Holy Trinity – Photo by Dale Dunham

Most of the buildings of Ridgeland were burned during the Civil War, but this church was spared, having served as Union headquarters during Sherman’s famous March to the Sea. Rumor also has it that horses were stabled in the church. The antebellum church was ransacked of its possessions during its occupation. Years later, in 1928 a bible belonging to the church was discovered in the attic of a New York music publisher. He returned it to the church with a note stating, “How it came into possession of my family I do not know.” The bible’s endsheet bears the scribbled name of a Union officer. The church now protects the bible as a treasured keepsake.

window detail of holy trinity church
Window detail of Holy Trinity
Photo by Richard Horry

The church is a notable example of Carpenter Gothic style architecture. The asymmetrical composition, wheel windows and buttressed tower are great examples of this style. The bell tower serves as a stairway that leads to the old slave gallery. A pipe organ now sits in this gallery. The interior boasts an original hammer-beam timber ceiling.  If you would like to read more about this church, visit the Church of the Holy Trinity’s website.

historic churches ridgeland - euhaw baptist church
Front facade of Euhaw Baptist
Photo by Carie Robertson

Euhaw Baptist Church was first built on this site in 1860. This church is the second oldest Baptist organization in the South. Originally located on Edisto Island, the first structure was built in 1686. This church split, and relocated to the Grahamville village, which is now a part of Ridgeland. Euhaw means “Indian Lands.” The church was named in their honor. The original church at this location was burned during the Civil War. Luckily the congregation was able to restore it. Unfortunately, a forest fire destroyed the building in 1904, and the current structure was built in 1906.

Euhaw Baptist Church stained glass detail
Stained glass detail
Photo by Carie Robertson

This beautiful village church has gentle whispers of a late Victorian style. The asymmetrical arched and hooded windows, central round windows, towers and gingerbread draw homage to the period of architecture that was popular at the turn of the century. The 1906 Euhaw Baptist Church stands proudly as it was built, and no longer used for services. The congregation built a new more modern building next door in 1985. This structure is used only for special occasions. If you would like to read more, visit the SC Picture Project‘s page about the Euhaw Baptist Church or the EBC Faith Web.

Side view of Euhaw Baptist Church
Side view of Euhaw Baptist
Photo by Carie Robertson

Robertville Baptist Church

Robertville Baptist Church sits in the village of Robertville, just a few miles outside Ridgeland. The original 1824 church was burned during the Civil War. This beautiful structure was built in the 1840s and moved from Gillisonville to its current location in 1871. It was transported and moved piece-by-piece to the current site. Church members included Confederate Brigadier General Alexander Robert Lawton, who founded the American Bar Association, and his nephew, General Henry Martyn Robert, who wrote Robert’s Rules of Order.

Robertville Baptist Church exterior
Robertville Baptist Church
Photo by Carmen Pinckney

The unaltered church is a lovely blend of Greek and Gothic Revival styles. The interior pews date to 1867. According to the National Register, the church “Remains unaltered and designed with graceful simplicity, the little church gains its charm from an unusual but successful blending of styles: the Greek Revival with Gothic Revival details. The portico is supported by only two Doric columns (without capitals) on pedestals. The double front paneled door is crowned by a lancet arch. The Gothic detail is repeated in the gable ornament above and in the windows. All interior wood is said to be original.”

Interior of Robertville Baptist Church
Robertville Baptist interior
Photo by Carmen Pinckney

If you would like to read more about this historic church, visit the South Carolina Picture Project’s page on the Robertville Baptist Church.

Tombstone in Robertville Baptist Cemetery
Robertville Baptist Cemetery
Photo by Carmen Pinckney

Gillisonville Baptist Church

Gillisonville Baptist Church stands proudly in what was once the courthouse village of old Beaufort District. The courthouse, square and adjacent buildings of Gillisonville were burned by Sherman’s army in 1865.

Gillisonville Baptist Church Exterior
Gillisonville Baptist Church
Photo by Carie Robertson

Built in 1838, the antebellum church was spared during the Civil War because it was used as headquarters for a contingent of Union troops when they passed through the area. A Union soldier carved into the original antique silver communion set “War of 1861-2-3-4. Feb. 1865. As Union troops approached the Gillisonville village in 1865, a cannonball damaged the building’s steeple and bell tower. The tower has remained “steeple-free” as a reminder of its occupation. After the war the sanctuary served as a temporary courtroom until 1868, then the seat of government moved back to Beaufort.

Side view of Gillisonville Baptist Church
Side view of Gillisonville Baptist
Photo by Carie Robertson

The Greek Revival structure is covered in white clapboard and sits on a brick foundation. Constructed by local craftsmen, the church still possesses many of the original features. Boxed pews, random width flooring, and a former slave balcony can still be seen inside the sanctuary. The pulpit was repurposed and moved from the neighboring Coosawhatchie courthouse. It was formerly a judge’s seat. It is still in use today.

Cemetery surrounded by a brick wall
A brink fence surrounds the historic cemetery.
Photo by Carie Robertson

Holy Trinity Episcopal – 2718 Bees Creek Road, Grahamville
Euhaw Baptist Church – 2576 Bees Creek Road, Grahamville
Robertville Baptist Church – 26 Robertville Drive, Robertville
Gillisonville Baptist Church – 10158 Grays Highway, Gillisonville

Map showing locations of Robertville Baptist, Gillisonville Baptist, Holy Trinity Episcopal, and Euhaw Baptist churches

For more interesting day trip ideas in the Ridgeland area visit .

Information for this article can be found on the following websites:
South Carolina Picture Project
The National Register of Historic Places
Moving Finger of Jasper Churches of the County, by Grace Fox Perry

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Old Sheldon Church Ruins Are Protected

Old Sheldon Church Ruins
A black metal fence protects the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

One of the lowcountry’s most photographed sites gained several feet of protection. In an effort to preserve and protect the Old Sheldon Church, a locked fence has been placed around the ruins. Visitors can still visit the site but cannot pass through the iconic columns and brick arches.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins gated for protection
A locked gate secures the ruins.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The church is owned by the Parish Church of St. Helena. They have been researching ways to preserve the ruins from rapid decay. The historic structure has fallen victim to vandalism by way of desecrating tombstones, graffiti, brick removal and destruction.

The Parish Church of St. Helena has plans to bring in docents on site to lead tours through the beautiful ruins. Restoration work will shortly begin first. Walking paths will be placed within the interior portion of the ruins. Walking through the brick archways will only be possible with professional supervision to ensure damage is not done to the structure.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins gated for protection
The new fence is simulated to resemble iron.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

This early example of Greek Revival stands as a testament to master craftsmanship and has had a very interesting life. The South Carolina Picture Project wrote a great article about its storied past.  A tablet located on the grounds reads: “Church of Prince William’s Parish, known as Sheldon, built between 1745-1755. Burned by the British Army 1779. Rebuilt 1826. Burned by the Federal Army 1865. Another sign states: “Old Sheldon is not a recreational area or playground.”

As visitors to this site we must respect this sacred and historically significant lowcountry gem. We must also understand, and not be offended by the fence. Protecting this structure for future generations is critical. The efforts of St. Helena should be applauded and appreciated.

For more information on Yemassee are attractions visit .

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St. Helena’s Lands End Road

History abounds from start to finish. Take a day trip to visit the historic sites on this scenic island road.

St Helena Chapel of Ease
Tabby walls of St. Helena Chapel of Ease Ruins.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

St. Helena is home to many beautiful roads. A turn onto Lands End Road puts you right in the heart of the Penn Center. This historically significant landmark is the site of the former Penn School, one of the first educational sites for formally enslaved individuals. Their website says it best, “Opened in 1862 the Penn School tutored freedmen out of slavery and into freedom. After the school closed in 1948, Penn became the first African American site in the state whose primary purpose was to safeguard the heritage of the Gullah Geechie community.

St Helena Penn School
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Later, in the 1960’s, Penn Center took up the mantle of social justice by ushering in the Civil Rights Movement and serving as the only location in South Carolina where interracial groups, such as Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Peace Corps could have safe sanctuary in an era of mandated segregation.

Penn Center continues to thrive as a national monument promoting historic preservation, as well as a catalyst for economic sustainability throughout the Sea Islands. Its far-reaching impact on local, national and international communities has been the greatest legacy of the Penn Center’s history.”

St Helena Penn School
Brick Church – Photo Credit: Bill Fitzpatrick

The oldest building on the site is the Brick Church. Built in 1855, Brick Church was an early location of the first school.

When visiting the Penn Center your first stop should be the Courtney P. Siceloff Welcome Center and Gift Shop in the York W. Bailey Museum. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you would like to read more about the historically significant Penn Center, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has a great article, or visit the PENN CENTER WEBSITE.

St Helena Chapel of Ease
St. Helena Chapel of Ease.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

As you travel further down Lands End Road you will find the St. Helena Parish Chapel of Ease Ruins. This tabby house of worship was built in the mid-1700s for the plantation families that lived on the sea island. Because the island was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War, the plantation families abandoned their homes and the church was used by the abandoned slaves of the island. It was used by Northerners who came south to educate and train freemen. It was also used as a sanctuary by Methodist freemen as early as 1868. A forest fire destroyed the structure in 1886 and it was left in disrepair.

St Helena Chapel of Ease Fripp Tomb
Fripp Tomb at St. Helena Chapel of Ease.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The church ruins are surrounded by ancient oaks, dripping in Spanish moss. It also has a cemetery, containing a tomb containing Fripp family members. This is a great spot to take pictures and reflect on the splendor of this historic site. The SC Picture Project has a great article about the chapel of ease ruins with many beautiful pictures.

St Helena Ft Fremont
Fort Fremont Historical Preserve photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Standing sentry at the end of Lands End Road is the Fort Fremont Historical Park. Built in 1889, this fort was one of six fortifications designed to protect the coast during the Spanish American War. Long abandoned, the site now sits in beautiful ruins. Surrounded by live oaks, the fort looks out over Port Royal Sound with 900 feet of beach access.

St Helena Ft Fremont
One of the spots where a breech-loaded disappearing cannon was positioned.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Visible now are the recessed spots where disappearing cannons were positioned. Fort Fremont was officially deactivated in 1912 when the Port Royal Naval Station moved from Parris Island to Charleston. The property went into private hands for several years. While the hospital was transformed into a hunting and fishing lodge, the fort fell into disrepair. They were both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004 the fort and 15 acres were purchased transform the ruins into a public park.

St Helena Ft Fremont
The ancient walls of Fort Fremont.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Visitors can roam through the preserve and view the fort from all angles. According to the Fort Fremont Historical Preserve, “Ft. Fremont serves as a historical remnant of military defense technology at the dawn of the 20th century as the U.S. became a major world power.”

St Helena Ft Fremont
Staircase leading to the top of the fort.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Fort Fremont is open for touring during daylight hours. You can also access and walk along the beach through the fort property. The full history of Fort Fremont can be found on their website.

For more Beaufort Country Day Trip Ideas visit .

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Lake Warren State Park

Lake Warren State Park is located just outside Hampton. The park provides many opportunities for outdoor recreation. A wide variety of wildlife can be found in the floodplain forest, wetlands and woodlands of the park. While walking in the park look for deer, armadillo, turtles, raccoons, squirrels… Be on the lookout for alligators, snakes and birds along the shores of the lake.

Lake Warren State Park pier
Lake Warren fishing pier. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

 The 200-acre lake is perfect for freshwater fishing and boating. The park also has a 2-acre fishing pond. There are two boat ramps that provide access to the lake. Motors are limited to 10-horsepower. Jon boats are also available for rent.

Lake Warren State Park fishing
Photo Credit: South Carolina Parks Website.

If you enjoy hiking, the park has three nature trails. Trail locations can be found on the park MAP. The Nature Trail is a 1.25-mile loop that travels through the woods and ends at the fishing pond. Interpretive signs are placed along this trail to increase your knowledge of local wildlife. The Fit Trail has 10 exercise stations. This .0-mile loop is located among the wildlife in a mixed pine forest. The Yemassee Trail skirts along the bank of Lake Warren. Watch for birds and other wildlife including snakes and alligators.

Lake Warren State Park dock
There are many spots to fish or view wildlife.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Pets are welcome at the park. The trails are a great place to walk your dog. Dogs must always be kept under physical restraint or on a leash.

Lake Warren State Park wildlife
Photo credit: South Carolina Parks Website

The park also has picnic shelters and a playground. It’s a great place to spend a sunny day. If you’re looking to fish, hike, play or relax, Lake Warren State Park is the perfect destination for you.

Lake Warren State Park
Photo credit: Zadok Moss


For more ideas visit

Lake Warren State Park
1079 Lake Warren Road
Hampton, SC

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Fripp Island Resort

A Dog-Friendly Week Paradise!

Fripp Island beach
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

If you are looking for a dog-friendly beach adventure that aims to please, look to Fripp Island. This easternmost barrier island in South Carolina is located at the end of Highway 21 in Beaufort County. Just a stone’s throw from Hunting Island State Park, Fripp provides private island vacationing (and living) at its finest. Amenities abound and nature delights. If your furry friend is a part of your vacation plans, this is the destination for you.

Fripp Island is dog friendly
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Vacation rentals range from tennis villas and golf cottages to beachfront homes. My party included two and a dog, so the tennis villas were perfect for us. Positioned between the canal and the courts, with the Beach Club across the street, everything we needed was in sight.

Fripp Island golf cart
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The best way to move around Fripp is by golf cart. Check when picking a rental to see if you have a golf cart and amenities cards included. If not, you can rent one at Island Excursions (located at the marina). Bikes and scooters are also available. Most beach access points have golf cart parking. You simply load your beach supplies and cooler onto your cart and head out for a day on the ocean.

Unpack, pick up your golf cart and head to the beach. If taking your dog, you might want to start off at a more isolated beach. Follow Tarpon Blvd (the main road) to the end to find the perfect spot to introduce your furry friend to the ocean. This beach overlooks Pritchard’s Island which is only accessible by boat. Kayak trips across are a fun way to explore this island. Keep in mind, the sand gets very hot, so limit dog access to the beach to morning and evening excursions.

Fripp Island wildlife
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Another thing to consider is introducing your dog to the presence of deer. They are everywhere! They roam the island freely and have grown accustomed to visitors. Keep in mind, they are wild animals and should not be fed or bothered. To round out the end of the day, have a drink and enjoy the music at the Sandbar (located at the Beach Club).

Fripp Island food
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

If your trip includes amenities cards, you can enjoy the restaurants and pools at the Marina, Beach Club and Cabana Club. The restaurant at the Cabana Club offers great fish tacos and pina coladas. The Bonito Boathouse is a great choice for dinner.  The staff is pleasant, the views are breath-taking, and the food is very tasty.

Resort amenities offer a an unmatched variety of sports and leisure activities on Fripp. Amenities include: activity center and programs, pools, racquet club, dining & restaurants, shopping, island excursions, marina and Camp Fripp. For the golfers, you have two spectacular courses to chose from. There are also fun things to do in the Beaufort area. Visit Fripp Island Golf and Beach Resort’s Ultimate List of Things to Do for more ideas.

Fripp Island
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Fripp features 3.5 miles of spectacular, uncrowded white sandy beaches flanked by towering Palmetto trees, just waiting for you to enjoy. Check out the FRIPP ISLAND MAP to find great access points to the beautiful beach. All beach access points are numbered, so if you plan on an evening stroll on the beach, pay attention to your access point number so you can find your way back at the end of the walk.

Fripp Island Audubon Trail
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The island is covered in miles of walking trails along the roadways and through the forest and marsh.  Designated as a wildlife sanctuary, Fripp hosts many species of birds, along with wildlife including deer, turtles, alligators and raccoons. There is an Audubon Trail located on Porpoise Drive. The trail goes through the maritime forest and ends at the marsh of the Fripp Inlet. Educational signs and benches are placed along the trail.

For a relaxing and fun beach week, consider planning a trip to Fripp Island. For more information click on the following websites: FRIPPISLANDRESORT.COM or FRIPPISLANDLIVING.COM.

Fripp Island boardwalk
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

For more interesting things to do in the Beaufort area visit

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The Lowcountry & Resort Islands Region of South Carolina includes the four, southern-most counties in the state, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton, which are bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.

simplysoutherncottage keeps us in awe with each her projects. This bed swing refresh is one of our favorites!
📸: simplysoutherncottage⠀
#bedswing #prettyinpink #backporchliving #backporch #porchdecor #cottagestyle #bhgprojectjoy #bhghome #slhomes #southernstyle #bohostyle #bohodecor #bohochic #lowcountryliving #summervillesc #realestate #summervillerealestate #visitsummerville #sclowcountry #explorechs #mysouthernliving #charlestonrealtor #charlestonsc #summervillerealtor #72soldsc #jimbrantleyrealtor ⠀
🔴“Approaching Showers”, 12x12, oil on canvas.  hortonhayesfineart hortonhayesfineartstudio markkelvinhortonstudio #sclowcountry #charlestonsc #charlestonartist #charlestonartists #tonalism #tonal #marshpainting #mtpleasantsc #hobcawcreek #limitedpalette #contemporarypainting #contemporaryart #skyscape #stormsky
Beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry
Thanks for the tag 📸exodusfoto
#southcarolina #southcarolinacoast #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #lifeonthecoast #coastliving #coastalsouthcarolina #saltyair #saltlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #spanishmoss #sunrisesunset
Spanish moss drapes the live oak trees that are ubiquitous to the Edisto Island area. Did you know that Edisto gets its name from the native Edistow people? The Edistow Native Americans were a sub tribe of the Cusabo indians, a group of Native Americans who lived along the Atlantic coast in South Carolina.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: Stop by mid-morning. That way you can explore the island, grab lunch, and stay for the amazing sunset if you choose.🏖️ Things to do while there: Edisto Environmental Learning Center, Boneyard Beach, Scott Creek Inlet, Big Bay Creek, SeaCow Eatery.☀️ Things to visit in the area: Jungle Road Park, Bay Creek Park, Otter Islands, Spanish Mount Point.📆 Best time of the year to visit: For warmer weather come anywhere from March-August.🏨 Where to stay: Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort (frippislandrsrt), Seabrook Island Club (seabrook_sc), The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (kiawahresort), Charleston Kiawah Island/Andell Inn (andellinn).Photo by qcphotographer
The shore gently recedes beneath the stunning Pawleys Island Pier. The unique island town, located about 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 70 miles north of Charleston, exudes laid-back, beachy vibes. Locals have definitely adopted an island state of mind and encourage visitors to as well. When you go, make sure to relax on the beach, explore the famous sand dunes, or fish in one of the many adjacent creeks.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: We guarantee that you’re going to want to spend a whole day here. We recommend getting to the beach at around 10am.🗓️ Best time of the year: Pawleys Island has the best weather during the spring and early summer months.🏖️ Things to do while there: Pawleys Island Nature Park, Pawleys Island Chapel, Hopsewee Plantation.🐠 Things to visit in the area: Brookgreen Gardens (brookgreen_gardens), take a walking ghost tour, Myrtle Beach (mymyrtlebeach), Harborwalk Marina, South Carolina Maritime Museum (southcarolinamaritimemuseum).🏨 Where to stay: The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn (oceanfrontlitchfieldinn), Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort (litchfieldbeachandgolf), Sea View Inn (seaviewinn), 620 Prince (620prince).Photo by qcphotographer
🔴“Gentle Creek”, 12x12,  oil on canvas. hortonhayesfineart hortonhayesfineartstudio markkelvinhortonstudio #sclowcountry #skyscape #skyporn #charlestonsc #charlestonartist #landscapepainters #landscapeoilpainting #creek #mtpleasantsc #wintermarsh #contemporarypainting #contemporaryart #vasaripaint #artistsandcraftsmansupply #holbeinoils #gamblinoilcolors
Discover at your own leisure at the coastaldiscoverymuseum 🌳  From century-old buildings with storied pasts, to wooden boardwalks that stretch into the Jarvis Creek salt marsh, there's always something to explore!
South Carolina lowcountry
#southcarolina #southcarolinacoast #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #lifeonthecoast #coastliving #coastalsouthcarolina #saltyair #saltlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #spanishmoss #sunrisesunset #charleston
A visitor takes a leisurely stroke under a canopy of live oaks draped with Spanish moss in the Palmetto Bluff (palmettobluff) neighborhood of Bluffton, South Carolina. Palmetto Bluff is a picturesque community that sits in the heart of Lowcountry. Nestled along the May River, it’s abundant with beautiful walking trails, historic sites, and stunning views.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: There is no wrong time to visit Palmetto Bluff. However, we highly recommend sticking around for one of their spectacular sunsets.🛶 Things to do while there: Stop by Cole’s for some regionally inspired Southern fare, paddle board, kayak, or canoe along the May River, go saltwater fishing, take a tour at Bluffton Jack's Old Town Tours.🌊 Things to visit in the area: Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, Old Town Bluffton, Bluffton Oyster Factory Park, May River Sandbar, Heyward House Museum and Welcome Center (heywardhouse).📆 Best time of the year to visit: For the best weather, we recommend visiting between March and May or from September to November.🏨 Where to stay: The Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort (montagepalmettobluff) is the only resort in Palmetto Bluff. However, there are plenty of places to stay in the surrounding areas including: Old Town Bluffton Inn (oldtownblufftoninn), The Inn & Club at Harbour Town (theinnandclubatharbourtown), Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island (sonestahhi).Photo by jpgriceoz
Thankfully done and sold🔴! “Reflections”, 24x18, oil on canvas.  hortonhayesfineart markkelvinhortonstudio hortonhayesfineartstudio #sclowcountry #charlestonsc #skyscape #skylovers #oiloncanvas #mtpleasantsc #lowcountry #southeast #marshpainting #marshpaintings #skylover #kiawahislandsc #contemporarypainting #contemporaryart #limitedpalette #tonalistpainting #tonalistlandscape
The Garvin-Garvey House is believed to be one of the earliest known freedmen houses still in existence on the May River.The house was restored in 2016 and opened to the public in 2017.📸: circa 1980's by Hank Cram via Garvin Garvey website.#sclowcountry #naturallyamazing #thatsmylowcountry #garvingarveyhouse #blufftonsc #beaufortcountysc #exploresc #exploresouthcarolina
Headed down the road....Edisto Island.  #edisto #sclowcountry #trees #endofday  #beauty #islandsofsc
By the time the clouds lifted, the fox had already hidden in the dunes.  The wind went out to sea.
The sun rose.
I wished you were there.
#clouds #natureismedicine #sunrise #skyfire #reflections #coastalcarolina #sclowcountry#discover_carolinas
The resplendence of Mother Nature never ceases to amaze, and this painterly sunset over the May River doesn’t disappoint. We look forward to the days when we can relish views like this one at the MontagePalmettoBluff resort in South Carolina’s picturesque Lowcountry. 📸: montagepalmettobluff.
#southernladymag #armchairtravel #montage #montagepalmettobluff #visitsc #visitsouthcarolina #lowcountrytravel #sclowcountry #thezimmermanagengy #thez #myzlife #southernresorts #travelsouth #southernescapes #southerngetaways #luxuryresorts
What were your weekend views today? #DiscoverSC 📸📍Botany Bay Beach: charlestonshopcurator
It’s almost that time of year again!  May 1st starts the Sea Turtle season! Adopt a Sea Turtle nest to help the program out! 🐢#Repost coastaldiscoverymuseum with make_repost
How does the CDM Sea Turtle Protection Project's Adopt A Nest fundraiser benefit the Coastal Discovery Museum's educational programs?In 2017, for example, proceeds allowed the Museum to purchase life-size sea turtle cutouts from Printology Signs & Graphics which supports our mission of "inspiring people to care for the Lowcountry and all the plants, animals, and people who call this place home"!Learn more about sea turtles and other unique Lowcountry creatures during the Thursday afternoon Discovery Lab Open House. For details and reservations, call (843) 689-6767 ext. 223. To Adopt A Nest before sea turtle season starts on May 1, visit
#coastaldiscoverymuseum #honeyhorn #hiltonheadisland #southcarolina #communitymuseum #smithsonianaffiliate #seaturtles #adoptanest #printology #inspiringothers #makeadifference #protectwhatyoulove #discoverylab #discoverylabopenhouse #coastaldiscovery #sclowcountry #lowcountrylife
No filter & it was so beautiful I didn't want to make it fit Instagram! #pawleysislandsc #onlypawleys #pawleys #arrogantlyshabby #eastcoast #coastalcarolina #sclowcountry #lowcountry #borntobeach #somebeachsomewhere #peaceloveandsandyfeet #inmymindimgonetocarolina
Reposted from coastaldiscoverymuseum Hilton Head Island has the second highest tidal range on the East Coast, second only to Canada’s Bay of Fundy. The average tidal range here is 7-9 feet between high and low tides.The Salt Marsh is one of our area’s most prominent features, not to mention an essential resource. Most coastal creatures depend partially or even fully on the Salt Marsh for survival as it serves as a nursery, as well as a water filter vital for the functioning of the entire coastal ecosystem.Explore the Lowcountry up close with a visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum and head out into the marsh via the Osprey Outlook floating dock on a self-guided tour or register for the weekly Salt Marsh Discovery program to learn from an expert how and why this particular environment is so important. (843) 689-6767 ext. 223 or
#coastaldiscoverymuseum #honeyhorn #hiltonheadisland #saltmarshsaturday #hightide #lowtide #saltmarsh #ospreyoutlook #boardwalk #floatingdock #ecosystem #exploremore #familyfun #familyadventures #communitymuseum #smithsonianaffiliate #sclowcountry #lowcountrylife #visithiltonhead #discoversc
“You Are the Morning Sun”
long night ends. I ask
nothing. I have nothing left
to say to the sun.
#natureismedicine #haiku
#waves #wavesfordays #poetrycommunity #poetsofinstagram.
Morning has broken...
Inlet Life!
#yeshammockcoast #bestofthepalmettostate #southcarolina #southcarolinasbest #sclowcountry #onlypawleys #pawleysislandsc #jakeleerealestate #kelligimbertrealestate #marshgrass #marshview#discover_Carolinas #murrellsinlet #murrellsinletsc #treephotography #oaktreephotography #sunrise #sunrises_and_sunsets #water#inletlife
In 1915 the Yemassee Train Station was constructed to welcome incoming Marine recruits on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.Read more about this historic station on our📸: Carmen Pinckney#sclowcountry #naturallyamazing #thatsmylowcountry #yemasseesc #marinecorps #hamptoncountysc #exploresc #exploresouthcarolina #discoversc #discoversouthcarolina
Pawleys kinda sunrise....Summer 2022
#pawleys #pawleysisland #onlypawleys #sunrise #watercolorsky #yeshammockcoast #southcarolina #SC
#people #beachwalkers #beach #coastalscene #grandstrand #rusticfence #boardwalk #pier #ocean #beach #discover_Carolinas #bestofthepalmettostate #southcarolinasbest #myrtlebeacharea #sclowcountry #footprints #seaoats #sand #nature #people #landscapes #scphotographer
Why didn't someone tell me they also have dead trees at the beach?
Completed commission, 🔴”Off in the Distance”, 36x48.  hortonhayesfineart markkelvinhortonstudio hortonhayesfineartstudio #sclowcountry #charlestonsc #southcarolina #charlestonartist #landscspe #landscapepainting #contemporaryart #oilpainting #gamblinoilcolors #studiopainting
Almost Full Moon and After Sunset Sky on the Beach!
#waxinggibbousmoon #moon #moonreflection #waterreflection #sanddunes #seaoats #pinksky #bluehour #skyphotography #nature #naturephotography #beautifulsouthcarolina #coastalscenes #SC #southcarolina #yeshammockcoast #edpiotrowskiwpde #bestofthepalmettostate #coastalscene #SCcoast #waves #ocean #beach #beachphotography #sclowcountry #pawleysisland #onlypawleys #discover_pawleysisland #sunset #jenniferabneywpde #bestofthepalmettostate

The South Carolina Lowcountry Guidebook is filled with many things to see and do in the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina. Please fill out the information and we will send you a FREE GUIDE BOOK.