Charleston, SC...what's not to love, except for the rush hour traffic that is. Like St. Augustine, this is a city with a very long history. Charleston was founded in 1670 (In honor of Charles II of England). We are finding that there is so much history on the Eastern Coast of the US.
On the eating scene....She crab soup was 'soup'er, made from the female crab and her roe, not to be missed for sure.
While here we traveled over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge which is beautiful, more so as you are riding over it. It is the 3rd longest cable stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
First up for our explorations was Fort Sumter. This fort is best known as the site where the first shots that started the American Civil war were shot (4/12/1861). The most amazing part, to us anyway, was that the island, that Fort Sumter sits on did not exist in 1829 when work began. Brought from England was 10,000 tons of granite and 60,000 tons of rock to build the island that Fort Sumter sits on. It was not until 1841 that actual construction of the fort began and 1860 when the masonry work was completed. Walking on the site of the first shot that started the Civil war was eye opening for sure.
Next up was the Charleston Museum. The Charleston museum, established in 1773, is the oldest museum in the U.S. To have the foresight to establish a museum in 1773, for us anyway, seemed amazing. They had a separate section in the museum for the items that were established in the early years. Very interesting for sure.
We spent some time just walking the downtown streets. We so enjoyed the old architecture. Real style so often seems to be missing in newer structures. Most of the older Charleston houses, we learned, were winter residences for wealthy rice plantation owners. Unlike at the plantations we have visited in Louisiana, rice plantation owners did not entertain guests on their plantations (because the smell was unbearable), but rather did this in homes that they owned in the Charleston area. The downtown area also has many of the old churches that are still functioning churches today.
We toured the Joseph Manigault House. The house was built in 1803. Joseph inherited most of his fortunes from his father (22,000 acres and hundreds of slaves) and also married well (his first wife's father was Arthur Middleton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence) . There was so much excessive wealth, for some, during this time.
Next up was the Heyward-Washington house. George Washington stayed in this house for 3 weeks and the thought of walking up the same stairs as ole' George, well who would not think that was really cool? We learned how George Washington tried hard to not show favoritism and only agreed to stay in this house as it was empty at the time of his visit. Note the pull cords by the fireplace in the picture below. It was common in these houses for each room to have them. They rang bells to summon the slaves. Each room contained a bell with a different tone that the slaves would learn the tone/room association for.
While in Charleston we also visited the Slave museum. No pictures allowed. We learned while there that the slaves were only owned by about 5 % of the population and the cost of a slave was so much more than we ever thought (in today's dollars, some times as much as $30,000). The slave museum in Charleston is one of the last slave markets in the U.S.. It was situated out of the main city, operating long past it was 'generally' acceptable to trade slaves. This was a somber visit, but a part of our history that needs to be told. We learned how slaves would be housed, sometimes for weeks, fattened, forced to do exercises to build muscles, oiled and clothed all in an effort to bring a higher dollar at market. Black families were ripped apart at the market and black churches were only allowed to give sermons which were in support of the slave market ideals. With the black slave population out numbering the whites, there was constant concern over keeping an uprising from happening.
On to visit another Eastern fort. Fort Moultrie was first built on Sullivan's Island out of Palmetto logs in 1776. The British captured this fort in 1780 but departed in 1782 when the colonists won the war. This fort would be built up again in 1798 in response to the war in 1793. In 1804, a hurricane would cause major destruction and in 1809, Fort Moultrie would have its third and final construction. This last construction would be of brick with major portions buried under soil. This last construction would evolve through the times, long beyond WWII, remaining an active fort until August of 1947. The underground fort is well intact and open to tour and explore.
While in Charleston we decided to take a quick visit to the Citadel. The Citadel, has a long history. If interested, you can read more at: Citadel
We went there to view their weekly formal parade. The campus is beautiful, the cadets polite and friendly and the parade, well worth seeing.
Moon Pies! We just had to partake in the nostalgia and they were tasty. A dying breed it seems. Delicious just the same. More history, for those interested: http://moonpie.com/about#1 And to walk off that Moon pie, a short walk along the waterfront, with a beautiful water fountain, built like a pineapple.
We also visited the Charleston Tea Factory, which happens to be the only tea factory in the continental U.S.. We saw first hand how tea is harvested and dried. Green tea is not oxidized, oolong tea has a 15 min oxidation period and black tea is oxidized for 55 min. The tea plantation begins its history in 1888. The tea plantation history is interesting and more can be read at:Charleston Tea Plantation
Next up....a new state.....North Carolina.