A Story to Tell: The Hunting Island Lighthouse

Dated: August 7 2022

Views: 65


One of the most popular spots here in the Lowcountry is Hunting Island State Park, and it's one of the many reasons why people love calling Beaufort SC their home.

Currently closed for renovations, it still remains the only lighthouse in South Carolina where you can still visit and climb all the way to the top,  and it's got a very storied history dating back all the way before the Civil War.

The original structure was built in 1859 and was constructed of interchangeable cast-iron sections so it could be dismantled should it ever need to be moved.

It was a well needed navigational aid back in those times. With the waters off of the coast of South Carolina being shallow, the Hunting Island Lighthouse's beacon was visible for 17 miles out to sea. That meant the world to all of the vessels making their way along the coast, or heading to the bustling Port Royal Sound, the deepest port on the east coast of the U.S.

The lighthouse was destroyed by Confederate troops at the beginning of the Civil War in 1862 to attempt to thwart Union Naval forces from using it as a navigational aid.

It was rebuilt and placed back into service in 1875.

It was a good thing that it was constructed the way it was because severe beach erosion made it necessary to relocate the lighthouse 1.3 miles inland in 1889.

The Lighthouse was first located on the northern portion of Hunting Island and by 1888 it was reported that the Atlantic Ocean’s high tide had reached within 35 feet of the keeper's house. As a result, the lighthouse, the keeper's house and two other buildings were relocated to their present-day location. (which are currently available for public tours)

At the time of the 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane the Hunting Island Lighthouse functioned as a safe haven for the passengers aboard the steamer "City of Savannah" which had been forced into the shallow waters during the massive storm.

The Lighthouse continued operation until it was deactivated in 1933. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Today, the lighthouse stands as the only publicly accessible lighthouse in the state of South Carolina. For a few bucks you can climb all the way to the to and see out over the beach, imagining what the lighthouse keeper's life would have been like some 150 years earlier.

And it sits right here, in Beaufort's back yard.

If you're thinking of relocating to the Beaufort SC area, we can help make your dream a reality by helping you find your forever home here in the Lowcountry. Call us at 843-521-2121 and one of our experienced agents can assist you in becoming a Beaufort local. We live the Lowcountry life, and want to share it with you.

Cover photo courtesy Phil Heim

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