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Wonders of South Carolina

Angel Oak
Angel Oak – one of the symbols of the history of South Carolina / RegalShave, Pixabay / Pixabay license

WorldBlue  Highlights

There is a term: Southern graciousness and much of it can be found in South Carolina. This state definitely has its own charms and these show in the following highlights:

  • City of Charleston. Cozy, homely and, due to this, getting overcrowded… which tells something about the draws of this city. Charleston has preserved much of its rich history – including hundreds of sophisticated historical buildings, each with its own long history.
  • Plantation houses. The closest relatives to the traditional European manor houses, but with their own, specific characteristics of the American South – occasional alligators in the park ponds, incredible avenues of moss-covered oak trees, and… yes, slave cabins. Different sides of human nature meet in the same historical landmark.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of South Carolina

Geological wonders

Table Rock SC

970 m tall mountain with a fairly flat surface and steep slopes of monolithic granite. This mountain is a batholith – a fragment of magma that was pressed upwards during the Ordovician period some 430 million years ago.

Table Rock, South Carolina
Table Rock, South Carolina / Angie Yates, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Raven Cliff Falls SC

The tallest waterfall in South Carolina, some 100-110 m tall. Waterfall has formed on Matthews Creek and has several cascades.

Raven Cliff Falls
Raven Cliff Falls, the tallest waterfall in South Carolina / JAG, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
Rainbow Falls SC

Some 30 – 40 meters tall waterfall with a single plunge, one of the most prominent waterfalls in the state.

Rainbow Falls SC
Rainbow Falls, South Carolina / Scott Oves, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Biological wonders

Angel Oak

Enormous Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) of unusual beauty. The circumference of the trunk is 8.5 m but especially impressive is the enormous crown that covers 1,600 square meters. Stories about ghosts – angels around the tree.

Angel Oak
Angel Oak./ David B. Gleason, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Landsford Canal State Park lilies

One of the few remaining populations of a spider lily Hymenocallis coronaria. This beautiful flower is very rare and here it forms a pure stand in Catawba River – the largest stand of this plant anywhere. The beauty of these fragrant flowers can be admired in May – June.

Lilies in Landsford Canal State Park
Lilies in Landsford Canal State Park./ Duane Burdick, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Archaeological wonders

Fig Island shell rings

A group of shell rings – ring-shaped shell middens that are up to 6 meters high. The largest ring has a diameter of some 40 m. These mounds were made some 4400 – 3600 years ago. This might be the most complex system of shell rings in North America.

Architecture wonders

Fort Sumter

Sea fort – a fortified island at the entrance in Charleston port. Construction started in 1829 and was left unfinished on April 12, 1861, when the American Civil War started exactly here. A historical monument of major importance.

Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter, Charleston / Methaz, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Dock Street Theatre

Hotel – theatre building in the historical center of Charleston. Constructed in 1809 and adorned with a wrought-iron balcony. This hotel was built on the site where the first theater building in the area of the United States was constructed in 1736. Reportedly a haunted place.

Dock Street Theatre, Charleston
Dock Street Theatre, Charleston./ Andrea Kennedy, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Beaufort Historic District

In this town have been preserved several neighborhoods with numerous magnificent homes and gardens from the 19th century.

Beaufort, Craven Street
Beaufort, Craven Street / BeaufortTiger, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
French Huguenot Church in Charleston

This small church was built in 1844 in a sophisticated Gothic Revival style. This is the only independent Huguenot church in the United States. Huguenots fled from persecution in France and many came to South Carolina, often becoming rich and influential merchants.

Huguenot Church in Charleston
Huguenot Church in Charleston / Spencer Means, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Aiken-Rhett House

Historical city house that was built in 1820 by the merchant John Robinson, one of the best-preserved townhouse complexes in the United States. It contains also the historical slave quarters. Now here is a museum.

Aiken-Rhett House
Aiken-Rhett House./ Warren LeMay, Flickr / public domain
Middleton Place Garden

One of the oldest and most prominent landscaped gardens in the United States. Park was developed around a plantation house in 1741.

Middleton Place Garden
Great oak of Middleton Place Garden / Caitlin Alexander, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Drayton Hall

The oldest unrestored plantation house in the United States. It was built sometime around 1738 in the Palladian style. Now it serves as a museum of plantations.

Drayton Hall
Drayton Hall./ Warren LeMay, Flickr / public domain
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

Enormous cable-stayed bridge with two towers, each 175 m high, holding a deck with eight traffic lanes and a pedestrian way. Total length – 4 km. Constructed in 2005 and designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and earthquakes.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge./ Mr.TinMD, Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
French Quarter in Charleston

The oldest part of Charleston City has been settled since 1680 and initially was walled. The area has many historical buildings, the oldest could be the Pink House from 1712 (?).

French Quarter in Charleston
French Quarter in Charleston./ Warren LeMay, Flickr / public domain
Botany Bay Road Tree Tunnel

Beautiful road through a “tunnel” of moss-covered trees, mainly oak trees.

Botany Bay Road Tree Tunnel
Botany Bay Road Tree Tunnel./ Wendy Pitts Reeves, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Avenue of Oaks, Boone Hall

Outstanding avenue of enormous oaks. Avenue is more than one kilometer long and leads towards one of the oldest plantations in the United States – Boone Hall. The planting of the avenue was completed in 1843.

Avenue of Oaks, Boone Hall
Avenue of Oaks, Boone Hall./ Lawrence Crovo, Flickr / public domain
South Carolina State House

South Carolina’s government house was built in 1855 – 1875. It is shaped in the Greek Revival style. Around the house are located numerous monuments commemorating the history of South Carolina.

South Carolina State House
South Carolina State House / Florencebballer, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Hampton Plantation

Historic plantation house that was built in 1735-1790 (or 1791). This wooden house is designed in the Georgian style.

Hampton Plantation
Hampton Plantation / mogollon_1, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Auldbrass Plantation

Historical plantation at Combahee River. The main complex of buildings was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright from 1940 to 1951. The original architecture has been well preserved and once per two years can be accessed by the public.

Basin in Auldbrass Plantation
Basin in Auldbrass Plantation / bobistraveling, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Millford Plantation

Magnificent plantation house in the Greek Revival style. It was constructed in 1839-1841 by the Manning family, one of the largest slaveholders of the period.

Millford Plantation
Millford Plantation / Jack Boucher, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Old Slave Mart in Charleston

One of the last slave auction galleries in the United States. This historic building was constructed in 1859 and slaves were sold here until 1863. Now here is the Old Slave Mart Museum.

Old Slave Mart in Charleston
Old Slave Mart in Charleston./ Warren LeMay, Flickr / public domain
Brookgreen Gardens

The first formal sculpture garden in the USA. It was developed by the famed sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington in the 1930ies.

Brookgreen Gardens
Brookgreen Gardens./ Kelly Verdeck, Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Charleston County Courthouse

A historical court building (1790-1792). It has been designed in Neoclassicism style by James Hoban and is a model for his later work – White House in Washington D.C.

Charleston County Courthouse
Charleston County Courthouse./ ProfReader, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Rainbow Row in Charleston

A group of thirteen historical row houses that are colored in diverse bright pastel colors. The longest and most impressive cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States. Houses were built in the time period between 1741 and 1845.

Rainbow Row in Charleston
Rainbow Row in Charleston / David Shankbone, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldYellow Recommended books

South Carolina: A History

Covering almost five centuries, an insightful, authoritative, and comprehensive history of South Carolina brings to life the diverse voices of the South Carolinians of the past and details the state’s present economic, educational, and political challenges.

Wild South Carolina: A Field Guide to Parks, Preserves and Special Places

South Carolina is a state of great natural beauty and rich biodiversity. From mountainous rainforests to isolated barrier islands, the Palmetto State is a remarkable place to encounter abundant plant and animal life. Wild South Carolina, compiled by a mother-daughter team of naturalists, delves into the most intriguing outdoor destinations, offering advice on how, when, and where to experience the state’s ecological treasures.

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