Furry Facts

I thought I would be frank about the Eastern Gray Squirrel, and here’s Frank as an example. He’s actually a rodent in the Sciuridae family, related to the groundhog, and the name squirrel comes from a combination of Latin terms meaning “shadow tail”. The tail of this critter that visitors often see throughout the year walking in scenic, historic Charleston is both a cover, a decoy, and a warning signal of imminent danger. Squirrels make a variety of sounds, ranging from a purring that means contentment, to a short clucking bark that is meant to locate other squirrels, to a high-pitched squeal meant to warn that predators are lurking. Squirrels build nests where their young are born, and they are polygamous with any number of mates, and can live as many as 20 years, foraging for seeds and nuts that they cleverly hide in ground cavities that they are able to relocate months later. Most of all they are great climbers, and can hang upside down from lofty tree limbs for extended periods of time, holding on with one paw while digging through a nut. Charleston also has the larger fox squirrel, which can be found mostly in more remote areas. <img.src=”Charleston Wild Life” alt=”Eastern Gray Squirrel”

Washington Worthy

On my walking tours of historic Charleston, we typically go by this house on South Battery Street that was the home of William and Jane Washington. William was a cavalry officer and George Washington’s cousin, who came to South Carolina from Virginia to fight the British during the Revolution, and fell in love with Charlestonian Jane Elliott. Jane was in the city during its occupation by the British from 1780-82, living on Legare Street with her family, while William was still outside the city, carrying on the fight. The Elliott’s, like numerous Charleston families, were forced to have British military officers use their house for quarters and entertainments, and one of these social gatherings occured only a few weeks after William’s cavalry had chased the vaunted British cavalry off the field at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, and news of the battle spread throughout the city. Some of the same British officers who had faced William were now looking at the attractive Jane and making improper comments when she reminded them that she was engaged to Col. Washington. Apparently one of the British soldiers acted dismissively to her reply, saying disdainfully, “I would like to see this Colonel Washington” Jane responded by telling the group of British officers that they had seen Col. Washington, reminding them that he was the cavalry officer chasing them off the field at Eutaw Springs. After that, the British were more respectful of Jane, who married William and occupied this house until his death in 1810. <img.src=”Charleston History” alt=”William Washington House”

Formidable Form

Throughout the year, visitors from all over the world travel to scenic, historic #Clharleston, SC to enjoy the architectural beauty of this classic coastal city. One of the most charming aspects of this fabled Southern city is its wealth of iron gates and balconies that we see in abundance on my walking tours. What comes as a surprise to many who wander the picturesque streets of the city is that the often delicate-looking shapes of the hand-forged wrought iron gates are actually very strong. Wrought iron has an extremely low carbon content, allowing this material to be shaped easily by heating surfaces and pounding or twisting them with tools into elaborate patterns. The malleability of wrought iron is an indication of its tremendous tensile strength – much stronger than iron cast in a mold, which is nearly 4% carbon and would break if bent or twisted with great force. During the Civil War, cannon defending Charleston were often strengthened by heating a wrought iron ring, or band, expanding the iron to the point where it could be slipped over a cannon barrel breech and cooled to contract on the barrel surface. These strong iron bands allowed gunners to use larger explosive charges in the cannon and fire shells much farther. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Strength of Wrought Iron”