Hunting Island State Park this past weekend began a celebration of 150 years of its lighthouse guiding people to the coast of South Carolina. State Park Manager Jeff Atkins explains, “It is the only lighthouse in South Carolina of historical value that is open to the public to be able to climb. You can actually visit it and climb to the top observation tower.”
More than 1.5 million people visit the park near Beaufort each year to see the lighthouse site that has served the military and industry for 150 years. It even guarded the coast during World War Two. Atkins says Friends of Hunting Island, schools and the Beaufort community have worked extremely hard to promote the history of the lighthouse, even creating a play performed in town. The distinctive beacon once was instrumental to the economy of the Southeastern coast.
“Charleston, of course, was one of the biggest ports in the nation (leading up to the US Civil War) and trade ships were frequently running back and forth from Barbados and the islands down in there and coming into port in Charleston, so lighthouses were of key importance during that time,” says Atkins.
The two-color lighthouse was repainted just in time for the 150 year celebration, which kicked off this weekend.