November 6 - 8, 2019: James Island and Beyond, South Carolina
As we left Goose Creek, South Carolina, we wanted to stop along the way and do some sightseeing.
On my bucket list was to see a 'Southern Plantation". After researching a bunch in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, we decided on the McLeod Plantation on James Island. Primarily because it was close and we thought would be a good depiction with the house and enslaved workers.
First of all, the drive to the McLeod Plantation was amazing. We crossed bridge upon bridge over salt marshes and then came upon narrow curved roads with the most amazing trees creating a canopy over the road with Spanish Moss hanging from them. What a picturesque site! We also noticed that most of the houses were built on stilts, which as pretty cool looking.
At the McLeod Plantation we took a guided tour and then briefly wandered around the plantation. Our guide was a little opinionated about the history (leaning towards the North side) and did a good job of helping you envision how life on the plantation would have been if you were an enslaved worker before, during, and after the Civil War.
The plantation was built in 1851 and now is a preserved historic site. It was originally 617 acres and is now 37 acres. This is a small plantation compared to many in the area. The picture on the right is the back of the house and where people entered from the roads.
This is the front of the house which faces the water and marsh. Notice the brick work on the steps leading to the door, love the curving of them. We were only allowed to tour the first floor. The second floor is used for office space. It appears to be a very modest home.
This oak tree on the side of the house is rumored to be over 600 years old.
These are the enslaved quarters. There are six on the property. Notice the entry way with the grate connecting the house to the stairs? That is a good idea to help prevent tracking inside the house.
This is the animal barn. Reminds me of my grandparents barn growing up. I just love the huge trees and moss.!
This is a cotton gin. I don't think it was the original one but is a good representation. The enslaved would make the bricks to build the building and they usually used small children to turn the brick in the sun for drying. Notice the small finger prints on the brick?
As we walked around the plantation and towards the river, we passed the cemetery where nearly a 100 enslaved graves were discovered. We enjoyed watching a draw bridge raise for a tugboat/barge and a sail boat to go through.
It was a sobering experience walking the grounds of where the enslaved were housed and worked.
Next we decided to visit the Angel Oak Tree, which is rumored to be over 400 - 500 years old. After seeing it and the one at the McLeod Plantation. I think Angel Oak is older.
What an amazing tree! The branches were huge in circumference and where they touched the ground they started to be buried by the dirt. Also notice on some of the branches, they have put poles up (vertical) to help support the branches. Craig looks so small standing under a branch.
As you can see they have signs all around about protecting the tree, even with these, I witnessed a boy about 6 years old kicking the limbs on the ground. Before I could say anything, his parents saw the appalled look on my face and told him to stop. Gggrrrrr.....
We still wanted to visit Folly Island so we drove over there, and grabbed something to eat.
The Folly Beach Pier is 24 feet wide, extends more than 1,045 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, and is 23 feet above sea level. It is 24 years old and due to deterioration from marine boring worms will be torn down this year and replaced. They are estimating it will take 18-22 months to complete a new pier.
The further we walked out onto the pier we realized it is a HUGE fishing area. Notice the benches, fishing pole holders and cleaning station. This was on both sides of the pier!
When we got to the end of the pier, two people fishing had caught something. We watched as one was netting and brought onto the pier. The other was hauled all of the way up (remember...23 feet with a hook in it's mouth) and onto the pier. The netted catch was a ray, hook removed and lowered over the side via the net again. The other catch was a shark, hook taken out and then thrown over the side into the water.
To me it seemed that both the ray and shark were out of the water for a long time (people taking pictures with them). And...were not handled very carefully. I really hope that both of them survived : (
It was windy and chilly so we found a protected area to watch the sunset.
Since we had messed around all day sightseeing, we decided to spend the night in the area and do some more sightseeing the next day. As it turned out, we ended up spending two nights at James Island Park & Campground.
As we drove into the campground the first night, they were getting ready for their holiday light show on November 17. It was pretty cool to see Christmas lights already ; ) And the next night they had even more on testing them.
The pictures below are from the two days we spent there.
The next morning, we headed out early to Wadmalaw Island and the Charleston Tea Plantation. On our way there, more bridges, salt marshes, and homes on stilts. Loved the drive with the trees and this cool ice cream company name!
Charleston Tea Plantation is owned by Bill Hall and the parent company is Bigelow Tea. It is 127 acres and Bill still lives on site.
We took a narrated tour of the factory (unfortunately, it was after harvest season). However, we got the see the equipment used and the learn about the harvesting and processing of the tea leaves.
We then enjoyed 6-7 samples of tea hot or cold on the veranda and waited for our guided trolley tour of the plantation. Our guide was awesome he provided a TON of information and answered every silly question I had ; )
These are the rows of tea plants which are evergreen. The machine in the picture on the right is called the Jolly Green Giant and is a custom one of a kind. It drives between the plants and cuts the top of the bush off, similar to pruning.
Once the plants flower (see below), then harvest season is over. Cuttings are taken from the plants and put into the greenhouse and nurtured for a few years until they are ready to be planted. In the bottom picture, the plants that look 'gangly' are the newest ones from the greenhouse. It will 3 to 5 years before they can be harvested.
What a really cool experience. We learned:
- How they make decaf vs. caffeinated tea (boil and drain the water off, so it has been 'cooked' already.
- The difference between black, green, and natural tea. It is the Oxidation process.
- Caffeine levels of tea. Black is the highest, then oolong, then green. Herbal teas are not caffeinated because it is basically flowers.
Thank you Connie for recommending that we visit the Charleston Tea Plantation!
As we left the Charleston Tea Plantation, we drove by Firefly Distillery and Deep Water Vineyard. I had seen these on the way to the tea plantation but when our trolley driver recommended we should stop...I loved the name of it and was able to con Craig into stopping for me ; )
Notice the iron fence and then the split rail fence? The poles for the split rail fencing are concrete. Wow...that is pretty impressive.
Since Craig does not drink, he entertained himself while I did a tasting from the distillery (paid) and then a tasting from the winery (free). Holy cow, let's just saw that after 5 small shots of whiskey, moonshine, vodka, bourbon, and 2 small samples of wine....I had a good buzz going. What a light weight!
Although I really enjoyed the moonshine, I could not justify $20 for a quart. Especially, since I rarely drink and it would last me 5 years!
As we drove away from the distillery...check out our elevation? Ya...I had to take a picture to make sure the alcohol was not impairing my vision : ) And...I wanted to take a picture of the homes in this area. There were some nice homes, however this was a good representation of the majority of them.
Although we were just driving through the area on our way to Savannah, George, we ended up staying 2 days unexpectedly. We had a great time and were go...go...go...whew.