Interesting Iron

This impressive array of Civil War cannon stands outside Fort Moultrie on historic #Sullivan’s Island. The campaign in and around the Charleston area was largely dictated by firepower, and huge guns mounted on land fortifications or carried in ships. The North had a tremendous advantage with iron-making industries, and a far greater number of cannon. The South produced some cannon, but many guns used by the Confederates such as those in this picture were captured from Federal arsenals that fell into Southern hands. The Civil War saw the creation of the first “rifled” cannon, equipped with grooves inside the barrels to fire aerodynamic shells instead of cannonballs to make attacks more accurate. Another new technique for that era was the concept of “banding” cannon, by heating large wrought iron bands and placing them on the breech of the gun, where the calling metal contracted to form an extra layer of strength so that larger charges of gunpowder could be used without exploding the barrel. One of the guns in this row is a former Federal smooth-bore that was restructured by the Eason and Sons Foundry in Charleston during the war, as rifling grooves were cut inside the barrel, and iron bands added to the breech, to make it a stronger and more accurate weapon. <img.src=”Charleston Military History” alt=”Civl War Cannon”

Dune Driving

The warm water along the coast near #Charleston has  lured swimmers for many generations, and the invention of the automobile and the first barrier island bridges in the early 1900’s made it fairly easy to drive to  the sea shore. There were no parking lots or public facilities for many years in places such as Folly Beach, pictured here, so folks would simply ride over dunes and down to the water line and jump in. Driving on the barrier islands was common as late as the 1950’s, and people also rode horses on the beaches for much of the 20th century. But by the 1960’s laws were passed prohibiting beach driving, and the only cars on local beaches today are police and rescue vehicles …or toys. It took some of the fun away, but certainly it’s easier on the mechanical parts not to be coated in salt and sand. <img.src=”Charleston Beaches” alt=”Cars Early 1900’s”

Curious Critters

The sight of guinea hens perched in historic #Charleston has become a more noticeable novelty in recent years. This bird, which is related to chickens, originally comes from West Africa, deriving their name from the country called Guinea.  They were brought to America and became a preferred barn yard creature because they raise such a big cackle if predators come lurking for livestock. A second plus for them is that their diet consists almost exclusively of insects, and anything that eats bugs is welcome in the South. These that wander the lower Charleston peninsula are kept as a novelty by a local resident, but they actually are not kept at all, and simply wander the streets and back yards as they please, and have become quite a tourist attraction in their own right. <img.src=”Charleston Curiosities” alt=”Guinea Hens


Porter Persistence

In 1880, the old United States arsenal in #Charleston was conveyed to Rev. Anthony Toomer Porter for use as a school, the Holy Trinity Church Institute, for young men. Porter, who had served as a Confederate chaplain during the Civil War, pulled off an amazing feat in having his request to possess the old arsenal, which had been seized by Confederates in 1860, approved by the General of the U.S. Army, none other than William Tecumseh Sherman. Porter’s remarkable persuasiveness got a hundred-year lease for one dollar, far less in treasure and blood than Charlestonians hd sacrificed in taking similar federal installations during the war. Porter converted most of the old arsenal buildings into classrooms, but selected one building for use as St. Timothy’s Chapel. Today, very little of the old campus exists other than St. Timothy’s, which stands as a reminder of the determined man for whom the school would eventually be known as Porter Military Academy, and eventually merging with Gaud School for boys into the current Porter-Gaud School, which moved from the location in 1966. <img.src=”Charleston History ” alt=”St. Timothy’s Chapel”

Lopsided Legacy

This is an image of a deed signed in 1686, conveying Kiawah Island to a group of settlers from #Charleston. The deal was struck between those whose names are signed on the bottom left with the Cussoe Indians, who used the island for hunting grounds. The deal was almost as lopsided as the one up in Manhattan, and for beads, hatchets and mirrors, the entire island was conveyed. Today, Kiawah is a world-class golf resort featuring single homes valued at $15-20 million each, so the Cussoe descendants might be inclined to feel the deal was unreal. Note that the native signers on the lower right had no knowledge of alphabets, and made their marks with feathers and wings. To them, ownership of land was apparently meaningless, as it seemed so abundant and was shared by many prior to European settlement. 

Regal Ravenel

The Arthur Ravenel Bridge in #CharlestonSC is marvel of 21st century technology that adds a graceful modern look to a charming historic city. The bridge, which opened in 2005, spans nearly three miles, with two 575-foot towers that suspend an 8-lane roadbed 186 feet about the water level at high tide by means of 126 powerful cables. The bridge has both a pedestrian and bicyclic lane, and has become one of the most popular destinations for hikers and photographers alike. It replaced two parallel bridges, one built in 1929 and the other in 1965, that were narrow and downright scary to drive. The new Ravenel is a driving delight, and is built to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes or the unlikely strike from a passing ship. <img.src=”Charleston Landmarks” alt=”Ravenel Bridge

Curious Caps

The chimneys of historic #Charleston #SC are among the most notable features in the #architecture, typically built with rounded “caps” or funnel-like “pots”. These are more than just decorations, and in the past, provided a function crucial to the buildings. aIn the days before electric and gas furnaces, homes were heated by fireplaces, in which wood or coal was burned. The mass of smoke rising through the narrow chimney passage must rise rapidly to make burning of fuel more efficient and to prevent it from backdrafting into the house. Chimneys often had cracks  inside the shaft as well as build up of carbon deposits that would reduce the lift of the smoke column, and by adding a cap or pot that funneled the column into a smaller outlet, this would create a vacuum effect that induced a better upward flow. A second advantage of the cap or pot was that it made more difficult the chance of flaming embers from other fires dropping into the chimney. Historically, many of Charleston’s disastrous fires were characterized by the hazards of airborne embers landing on roofs and in chimneys. <img src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Chimney Caps“>

Steeple Showcase

The steeple of St. Philip’s Anglican Church was added to the 1830’s structure in 1848, and is another superb example of the architecture of Edward Brickell White. At 200 feet, and on one of the highest areas of the city,  the steeple is very visible from the entrance to Charleston Harbor, and until 1918, was lit at night with navigation lights to helped incoming ships locate the channel. The four bells inside the steeple were added in 1976, replacing the original bells that were donated to the Confederacy to be melted down as cannon during the Civil War.

<img src=”St. Philip’s Church” alt=”Historic Charleston”>


Silent Sentinels

The Charleston Fire Department was organized in 1881, after years of individual “fire brigades” that protected buildings on a private contract arrangement. The old fire brigades were dedicated, but the system did not work largely because of lack of coordination among those fighting fires. The new fire house and fire towers built in the 1880’s included a “fire telegraph” system, in which a fire could be reported by turning a key in a street box, which sent an electric signal to the firehouses and bells would then summon the firefighters to action.

Illuminating Edifices

St. Philip’s Anglican Church is a marvel of elaborate detail and longevity. It was begun in 1835 and the body of the church completed in 1837, with much of the detail work from artisans who came to Charleston from all over the world. The steeple added later in the 1840’s was the design of Charleston architect Edward Brickell White, and the 190-foot edifice was lit up at night until 1917 and used as a harbor channel marker, now a beacon of shining Charleston history.