Visit Morris Island

By:Page Ivey


South Carolina's Morris Island Lighthouse in Charleston Harbor
Morris Island Lighthouse in Charleston Harbor

Sesquicentennial. I had never heard that word until I moved to Columbia. Of course, we have a state park here that was named that in honor of the city’s 150th anniversary in the 1930s. (What do you call it at 250 years old, which is where we are headed next for the city?)

The unusual and hard-to-say word has been bandied about a lot during the past three years and will be even more during the next two years as South Carolina, the rest of the former Confederacy and the U.S. notes the passing of 150 years since the Civil War.

About 150 years ago, the Confederacy was on its heels. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the U.S. in January 1863 and the Battle of Gettysburg that summer turned the tide of the military campaign.

The month of November marks the end of the siege at Battery Wagner on Morris Island, which is now known more for its candy-cane striped lighthouse than for the months-long battle between Confederate troops and several U.S. regiments, including the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, which was made up of free African-Americans.

It was a costly battle for the U.S. as more than 1,500 troops were lost. But the Confederates abandoned the fort on the edge of Charleston Harbor on Sept. 7, 1863.

Now you can go shell-seeking on the island with Adventure Harbor Tours (843) 442-9455, 20 Patriot's Point Road in Mount Pleasant. (Yes, that is across the harbor from Morris Island, but it’s just a 20-minute boat ride.) Adventure Harbor Tours can take up to 12 on its small boat and up to 30 on its larger boat. Because the tours depend on the tides, times vary. Call for a schedule. Tours are $55 per person and usually lasts about three hours. Children 3-12 years old are $30 each and the tour is free for younger children.

For a more thrilling look at Morris Island, try Thriller Charleston (843) 276-4203, 1313 Shrimp Boat Lane, Mount Pleasant. This 55-foot power catamaran rides the waves on the lighthouse side of Morris Island as part of its 30-mile, one-hour tour. It is not for the faint of heart (literally and figuratively) or for young children or pregnant women. But you will see five forts, two lighthouses and have as they say, a “rockin’ time.”

Call for reservations. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for children 3-12. No younger children are allowed. Oh, and Thriller promises you will get wet, so dress accordingly.

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