History and Nature are alive in Hardeeville
Looking to spend some time in Hardeeville? There are several attractions to keep you busy. While Savannah escaped the wrath of fire during the Civil War, Hardeeville was not so lucky. Sherman’s army started setting fire to buildings once he crossed the Savannah River. One significant building was put to use, allowing it to escape the flames of fire.
Hardeeville United Methodist Church dates back to 1860. Just after construction, the church was used as a hospital for Civil War soldiers. Due to Union occupation of the building, it was spared from fire when much of the town was burned in 1865. The bell that hangs in the belfry has some interesting history. It was taken from the last slave ship to sail up the Savannah River. A slave gallery once wrapped around the upper part of the sanctuary. It was removed in 1884. The church was beautifully restored in 1947 and is still in use with an active congregation today. The church is located at 106 Main Street in downtown Hardeeville.
A cross-shaped marker of stone stands on a low bluff overlooking the Savannah River at the junction of Highways 34 and 203. This marks the spot of old Purrysburg. In the early 1700s, Colonel Jean Pierre Purry led a group of German and French speaking Swiss protestants to establish the Purrysburg settlement on the banks of the Savannah River. By 1736 there were 100 houses and around 450 settlers in the new town, but the settlement would soon suffer from disease and unhealthy conditions. Surviving settlers migrated to other South Carolina towns. Some even sought protection from Oglethorpe across the river in Savannah. The Purrysburg Monument was erected in the 1940’s by the Huguenot Society of South Carolina. Close by is the original cemetery, which is still in use today. The oldest tomb is dated 1781. The monument stands proudly to remind visitors of the hardy folks that struggled to put down roots, many of which went on to become prominent landowners and rice planters.
Hardeeville became an important railroad town between Charleston and Savannah. The town was originally called Hardee’s Station after its founder, White William Hardee. In the early part of the 20th century, Hardeeville became an important timbering community. The Argent Lumber Company opened in 1916, and soon started operating four railroad engines that carried timber. The town’s lumber mill became the leading employer. The industry diminished in the 1950s and ended completely in 1959.
The Argent Steam Engine “Number 7” was donated to the town of Hardeeville after the Argent Lumber Company closed. This narrow-gauge train with a balloon smokestack was built around 1910 by the H.K. Porter Company. The train is exceedingly rare and attracts tourists from across the nation. “Number 7” was used by the Argent Lumber Company to haul timber from the forest to the mill. This train engine is a wonderful relic for the logging and lumbering industry of this area. The train engine is on display at City Hall, 205 Main Street and can be viewed during daylight hours.
If you’re a nature-lover, Hardeeville has beautiful outdoor spaces to pique your interest. Sgt Jasper Park nature walk or disk golf
Is located at 1456 Red Dam Rd. The park is open from dawn to dusk daily.
Read HERE about spending a day at Sgt Jasper Park.
Located just off Interstate 95, this 321-acre park features beautiful nature scenery. Wildlife abounds in this pine forest. An observation deck overlooking the pond is the perfect spot to locate and watch birds and other water-loving small animals. Walking trails lead visitors around a large pond which is great for fishing. Kayak and canoe rentals are also available. An 18-hole championship disk golf course is also located within the park. Dogs on leashes are welcome on the trails.
The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is located just outside Hardeeville on Hwy 17 between Hardeeville & Savannah. The refuge is open open daily.
Read HERE about spending time at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.
Read HERE about hiking at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.
The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is the home of over 29,000 acres of freshwater marshes, tidal rivers and creeks and bottomland hardwoods. The refuge is located in the heart of the Lowcountry, outside Hardeeville near the Savannah River. Known for its rich flora during the summer months, the refuge supports a diverse wildlife population. During the winter months, many species of ducks migrate into the area. In the spring and fall, transient songbirds stop briefly on their journey to and from northern nesting grounds. Bald Eagles and Egrets, Kingfishers and many other fish-eating birds call the refuge home. Alligators are also in resident on the refuge.
The driving tour takes visitors through historic rice fields. It is located on Hwy 170. The Visitor Center on Hwy 17, between Hardeeville and Savannah, is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. There is also a nature trail at this location.