After our first two weeks of living in Charleston, we were feeling a little down about the whole hiking situation. We had given it some attempts, but the trails were closed due to either flooding or hunting season. Aside from that, there are obviously no mountains nearby, so the views we’d be getting would be either on a board walk overlooking water, or surrounded by trees. Hiking has always been our go-to for physical exercise, and without it we don’t really know what to do. We also realized why we were able to do so much in Arizona without thinking twice – all the outdoor activities were basically free, besides whatever gas it took to get there. Our National parks pass allowed us to go to any of the nearby mountain ranges in Tucson and enter into the national forests for free. It seemed like EVERYTHING we wanted to see costs something here. Not only that, but we also wanted something dog friendly – we hate leaving Charlotte all cooped up at home. She has lots of energy to burn too!
Eventually, Curtis convinced me we just needed to go somewhere, and I think what got me interested in the place he chose was that there was a Whispering Giant Statue there. We love finding them, and had seen 8 already together through our travels across the country. (Well, I’d seen 10, but the other 2 don’t count because Curtis wasn’t with me… 😉 ) So hearing that we could see something we enjoy finding was enough to get me out of the house for the afternoon.
We went to Charles Towne Landing State Historic Park, and I’m so glad we did – of course! When do our adventures ever end up to be epic fails?! (Well ok, maybe they do sometimes, but those turn out to be the best stories!) This place had so much to enjoy that we don’t often get to find in the same place. Great trails for walking and biking, breath-taking scenery, plenty of historical structures or remains with plaques explaining what happened here, a vessel, gorgeous gardens, and a zoo (which we didn’t get to enjoy this time because it was the only place dogs weren’t allowed. Charlotte went with us everywhere else and loved it!). Basically, this place renewed our excitement for being able to see a new place and reminded me to keep an open mind. It does have an entrance fee of $10 per person, but we “splurged” and got an annual State Parks pass for SC because they offered a military discount, and we need all the incentive we can get to go visit more parks around here. 😉 We are really excited to return here in the spring when more flowers are in bloom, and are thinking it’s one place to bring any family or friends that come to visit us!
Now, I asked Curtis to share the history of this place:
So what is Charles Towne Landing? In short this is the original location of the Charleston settlement, the first English settlement in the Carolina’s (there were some Spanish and French influence in the area, but nothing permanent). So what a great place to start learning of our new home’s history.
Basically it starts like this, in 1663 King Charles II of England granted to eight friends the title of Lord Proprietors and the land now comprising North and South Carolina. Although not necessarily important, it is fun to note the names of these men as they show up everywhere. I list a few as they will show up in this post and a couple of the next: George Monck Duke of Abermarle, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Sir William Berkeley.
Seven years later, the Lords finally gathered enough intrepid souls to journey from Bermuda to the new coast and founded Charles Towne (after the King of course) on Abermarle Point on the….West side of the Ashley River. Those who know their Charleston geography are probably thinking at this time, “but Charleston is on the east side of the Ashley.” And you would be right, Charleston is on Oyster Point between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. And in 1680 the whole settlement would up and move to this much preferred location.
But in 1670, the settlers were more concerned with safety than the commerce offered by the deep Charleston harbor. Up on Abermarle Point, Spanish ships could not attack easily, a perpetual threat from Florida. So for ten years, the fledgling colony worked the land receiving help from the Kiawah Indians. They relied on a simple trade network: building barrels to be sent to Barbados, which were in turn filled with sugar, which was then sent to New York, then the ships would return to Charles Towne laden with textiles and implements.
But as I’ve said, the colonists eventually up and moved across the river to the better suited location, leaving Charles Towne Landing pretty much abandoned. One family notably lived on the land from the 1840’s onward, the Legare family and it was they who transformed the colonial settlement into the English Style garden that you see today.
One final note. The land was given over to the State in 1970 and the park opened as part of the TRI-centenial celebrations. It is simply incredible to think that over 100 years before the events of the Revolutionary War (which you should expect to hear more about in future posts I imagine) people were living here.
Curtis may have been totally enthralled by the historical points throughout the park, but as you can see, Charlotte was not. I can’t see why. 😀 Oh the things our poor pooch puts up with! It would have been amusing to watch her react to the zoo portion, but considering that she was terrified of a big bronze statue, maybe it was a good idea to keep her away from that area! Oh, and somehow even though all the paths were paved and we did minimal walking off the path, she still ended up completely filthy.
I was pretty camera-happy throughout the entire park. There was so much to capture between the trees, historical structures, fun little details, lakes, and these beautiful Japanese Camellia trees blooming with bright pink flowers! Before we found this tree, we kept randomly seeing flowers on the ground, all on their own, and I just assumed they were fake until I saw this beauty. I can’t wait for “spring” to actually come and see more flowers down here – and to just experience seasons in the Southeast in general!
Oh and yes, we found our 9th (my 11th) Whispering Giant statue as well! In case you don’t know, this statue is one of 72 on the Trail of the Whispering Giants, carved by Peter Toth. These are HUGE and carved out of different kinds of wood, usually wood that’s special to whatever area the Giant is in. We saw our first one in Minnesota while on our honeymoon, and have since seen them in Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, Colorado, California, and Oklahoma.
The weird thing about the one here is that it’s literally facing into a tree. We saw a picture of it from several years ago, and back then the tree was only a couple feet high – but the funny thing about trees is that they grow, so now you end up with a tall, beautifully carved statue looking into a tree. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, because there’s a whole line of trees along the trail and the Giant is right in that row…but turned to the side, so you can’t actually see it from standing on the trail in front of it. I don’t know what this place looked like, but it was pretty bad planning I guess! As our friend Kathy commented, “They need to trim the tree out of respect!” 🙂
And that concludes our favorite adventure here yet! We’re looking forward to visiting Charles Towne Landing many more times while we’re here. 🙂 To see more pictures of our day, visit savingtimeinabottleimages.tumblr.com!