History, Nature

Folly Beach…History, Nature and Fun

So the rush of the holiday season is officially over, everyone has the day off, and the weatherman is calling for a cold and wet Friday…if you are like us, this is the perfect excuse for a day trip somewhere with a much more agreeable forecast. At 7am, we loaded up our family, dogs included, and made our way to the coast. Within a few hours, we’d made it into downtown Folly Beach. Having never been to Folly before, we weren’t sure what to expect on this impromptu trip. However, I can honestly say that we were pleasantly surprised and both kids have decided that we should just live there. Bless their little beach bum hearts, but I probably wouldn’t complain about it.

Once we arrived, we headed straight for the beach and spent a while soaking up the salty air. There’s not much quite like digging your toes in the sand for the first time on a trip and that feeling is amplified by the fact that its January and nearly 70 degrees (and the reality that I knew it was pouring rain at home). After spending a couple of hours digging in (more like rolling in) the sand and running through the edge of the surf, we decided to dust ourselves off and head up to the pier to see what it had to offer. Stretching over 1,000 feet into the sea, the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier is the second longest on the east coast. Up top, you can find the Gangplank Gift and Tackle Shop and the Pier 101 Restaurant and Bar. Check out their live webcam at pier101folly.com! The area surrounding the pier is well known for fishing as well as surfing and fishing equipment is available to rent in the tackle shop. The views from the end of the pier are amazing and make you feel like you are standing on the edge. By this time our stomachs were starting to rumble, and we headed into town to grab a bite to eat at Taco Boy (highly recommend!) and perusing the local shops before heading down to the end of the island.

Our next destination was the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve. If we are being honest, anytime ‘Heritage Preserve’ is in the name, I am all in. These areas are a haven for all types local wildlife and are critical for conservation efforts. My experience has always been that they are the best of the wild and natural side of South Carolina alongside the state parks. After walking down the half mile paved path, you come upon a small, sandy path leading through the dunes. Following this path takes you onto the beach for a view of the Morris Island Lighthouse.  In general, I think lighthouses are cloaked in a shroud of mystery and have been romanticized in our history and the Morris Island Lighthouse delivered on this.

When we first arrived, only the base of the lighthouse was visible through the heavy fog over the water giving it a ghost-like appearance. The 161-foot lighthouse, which is located on the southern side of Charleston Harbor, was originally part of a larger island and was initially around 1200 feet offshore. But after construction of the jetties, which serve to protect the shipping lanes leading into Charleston Harbor, natural erosion began taking place at a more rapid pace. The shoreline reached the lighthouse by 1938 and it was then that the lighthouse was automated for safety and practicality. By 1962, the lighthouse was decommissioned and replaced by the new Charleston Light on Sullivan’s Island. Save The Light, Inc. was formed as a group of South Carolinians banded together to save the lighthouse from being lost into the sea. In 1999, Save The Light purchased the Morris Island Lighthouse from a private individual and began to put into place plans for the preservation of the lighthouse. To date, they have completed Phase I and II of their plan and this year begin Phase III, which centers around preservation of the tower itself with focus being placed on the interior walls, stairs, replacing glass in the lantern, etc. On their website, savethelight.org, you can find a live look at the lighthouse from their webcam, upcoming events, as well as ways that you can contribute to the preservation of this beloved landmark.

After spending several hours walking the shoreline, watching the birds and dolphins mill about, and absorbing the peace of this location as the sun began to set, we decided to call it a day and make the trek back home. Our day trip to Folly Beach showed us a beautiful glimpse into the history of this area and some of its many offerings. We will certainly be planning an extended trip to explore this area further very soon!

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