Morris Island in trouble

Image by flickr user scmikeburtonImage by 20080712morrisisle.jpg Morris Island is most commonly known for its lighthouse, but the island itself has played a big role from Charleston's earliest days, particularly during the Civil War.

Because of jetties set up in the 19th century, Morris Island is now about one-fourth its original size, and much of its history is underwater. Just look at the famed Morris Island lighthouse, which sits alone off the shoreline.

In this month's issue, Charleston magazine describes the shifting face of Morris Island, how its geography has shifted significantly during the past few centuries, much of that because of manmade changes. The jetties were put up so that Charleston Harbor could pull in more trade, for example.

The magazine also features a couple of slideshows of Morris Island images.

From Charleston magazine:

Perhaps the greatest danger to the island in recent years has been the threat of commercial development. Over the last decade, there have been plans for condominiums and luxury residences. In May 2008, The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization, brokered a partnership between the landowner, conservation groups, and the City of Charleston, which now owns the island. Under the aegis of the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, the island will remain protected and preserved.

Indeed, what remains of Morris Island is hallowed ground. It’s impossible to say how many have been buried on the island since it was given the name Coffin Land. From shipwrecks, disease, and war, this beautiful barrier island has perhaps received more dead than any other place in South Carolina. Erosion continues to eat away its shores, but the history made here cannot be washed away.

But more than the present-day woes of the island, the magazine goes through the history of Morris Island, from the early tribes that hunted and fished there through the Civil War and industrialization to the recent purchase of the island by the city of Charleston for preservation. As the magazine puts it: "Situated as the gatekeeper of the harbor, however, it witnessed almost every significant event to touch Charleston from 1670 onward. This culminated in the mid-1860s, when the island was the scene of intense and bloody fighting during the Civil War."

Definitely worth checking out, if you want to know a little more about Charleston history.

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