South of Charleston and all the way to Savannah, Georgia, 100 miles away, the land stays only a few feet above sea level and has a border of sandy barrier islands. Tall cypress trees rise above the live oaks and long-leaf pines, and the rivers feeding into the inlets and the ocean are a dark tea color, owing to the tannic acid from the cypress and swamp roots. In the narrow strip of lowland along the coast is the subtropical growth in which are found such plants as the large palmetto, several dwarf palmettos, yucca, and evergreen holly. The grasses along the coast are panicum, water millet, and sea oats, all of which are necessary to sustain the life of the rolling dunes protecting the shoreline from wind and tidal erosion. The people along Route 17, working small truck farms and commuting to Charleston and Hilton Head for work, have changed very little in the last hundred years. As you travel on Route 17, especially on the long section south of Charleston, you’ll be traveling through a part of the South that has withstood much of the tides of change. For a deeper insight and appreciation you might read Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greens. In a wonderful storytelling style, she tells of the old road and marvelously captures much of the African-American culture. Before you begin a tour of the Edisto Island area, which is this chapter’s first destination, here’s a little history. In 1666 Robert Sandford’s British expedition dropped anchor at Edisto Island and spent a pleasant week with the Edistow Indians. They were helpful, cordial, and friendly, and the delighted Sandford went back to London and spread the news that this was the ideal place for a British colony. While he was gone, the Edistows had second thoughts. When the settlers returned, the Edistows told them they had changed their minds about tourists settling among them and that the natives up in Kiawah country a few miles north were not only much friendlier but were actually looking for newcomers and would welcome them with open arms. The settlers got the message, weighed anchor, sailed back up the coast, and settled Charleston on the banks of the Ashley River. In 1674 Edisto Island was purchased from the Indians by the Earl of Shaftsbury. Shortly after, Paul Grimball was granted 600 acres of land on the North Edisto River and built a plantation house. In 1686, Spanish marauders sacked the area and the plantation and destroyed the Grimball Plantation. Today, the remains of the foundation (made of tabby, which is a cement made of lime, sand or gravel, and crushed oyster shells) can still be seen near the river. The above description is an excerpt from "South Carolina: Off the Beaten Path." Whether you're a visitor or a local looking for something different, this chapter from the Off the Beaten Path series will help you take the "road less traveled" and discover hidden attractions, unique finds, and unusual locales that most tourists miss.
© Copyright William Price Fox published by Insiders' Guide all rights reserved.
This travel guide comes from:
South Carolina Off the Beaten Path Guide Book