Lighthouse lovers all over the world are hard-pressed to say which ones they love the most. It’s easy to see why when you look at the great Lights we have in South Carolina. They’re all pretty spectacular in their own way. Some of them are open to the public, while others are stranded, either at sea or on an island and only reachable by boat. But they’re all absolutely captivating. Here are 7 historic lighthouses in South Carolina.
1. Cape Romain's 1827 Lighthouse - Located Southeast of McClellanville. Coordinates: 33°01′08″N 79°22′25″W
The first lighthouse built at Cape Romain was constructed in 1827. The 87.5-foot conical brick tower and accompanying keeper's house cost $10,000 back then. According to this
that would be nearly $234,000 today. This first lighthouse is one of the only one remaining from this era in U.S. history. It was a disappointment though, largely because the red beam couldn't be seen far enough away to save ships from hitting the high shoals off the coast here and many sank as a result.
Here's a look inside this light at Cape Romain.
2. Cape Romain's 1857 Lighthouse - Located southeast of McClellanville. Coordinates: 33°01′08″N 79°22′25″W
By 1857 another light was constructed at Cape Romain not far from the original light. It was more powerful and had construction costs totaling twice as much as the first light.
No, that's not the camera that's tilted. The second Cape Romain light has always leaned slightly, but over the years its become nearly three feet off level.
3. Charleston Light - Located on Sullivan's Island. Coordinates: 32°45′29″N 79°50′36″W
Located on Sullivan's Island, the Charleston Light was first lit in the summer of 1962. It was built to replace the defunct Morris Island Light which had sorely lost its connection to the mainland due to great erosion.
This 140-foot light is now painted black and white, but the Wikipedia entry says it was originally painted white and red-orange. At its start, it was the second most powerful lighthouse in the Western hemisphere.
4. Georgetown Light - Located on North Island southeast of Georgetown. Coordinates: 33°13′21.47″N 79°11′06.18″W
First lit in 1812, this light was rebuilt in 1857 and then again in 1865 after suffering much damage during the Civil War.
Accessible only by boat, the Georgetown Light is not open to visitors, however you can walk along the beach surrounding the light. There are a couple of tour companies that will take you out there if you don't have your own boat.
5. Harbor Town Light - Located on Hilton Head Island. Coordinates: 32°08′19″N 80°48′46″W
The most recognizable landmark on Hilton Head Island made history as it got its start amid major ridicule among lighthouse enthusiasts who felt it wasn't a "real" lighthouse. It's still wildly popular and its history of rejection from the naysayers makes it super interesting.
Harbor Town Light was built as a private navigational aid for Harbor Town Marina. It first lit the harbor in 1970. Today, you can go up in it and check out the great view from this landmark.
6. Hunting Island Light - Located in Hunting Island State Park east of Beaufort. Coordinates: 32°22′30″N 80°26′18″W
The Hunting Island Light is the centerpiece of Hunting Island State Park. The light at the top of this 136-foot tall tower was once visible for 17 miles.
Today, the light is still functional, but not as a navigational light. Mostly, it's lit for visitors to the area to appreciate and admire.
This light is open regularly for visitors to climb the 167 steps to the observation deck. You can check the
SC State Parks
website for more information.
7. Morris Island Light - Located north of Folly Island. Coordinates: 32°41′43″N 79°53′1″W
Perhaps one of Charleston's most beloved landmarks, the Morris Island Light is best photographed from the North end of Folly Island.
Once located 1200 feet onshore and now standing alone way out in the water, the Morris Island Light has been orphaned in the Atlantic for many decades.
The Morris Island Light is now under the stewardship of a non-profit group called SaveTheLight.org. It is currently not open to visitors.
South Carolina’s lighthouses are amazing. Have you visited any of these and what did you think?