Friday, December 2, 2016

Folly Beach - 2016

Dec 1 & Dec 2

--Blogpost written by Bob

Our boat has just been hauled out for re-powering (this morning) and we are in full "beach bum" mode here in Folly Beach SC, just south of Charleston.  We expect to be here for the next six weeks.

For orientation purposes, on this map Folly Beach is to the south
of Charleston.  Folly Beach is on Folly Island, a barrier
island.  Our boat is currently on the south-
west side of Wadmalaw Island.

According to Folly Beach, A Brief History, by Gretchen Stringer Robinson, "The history of Folly Island is a story of pirates, shipwrecks, soldiers, and dancing.  It is a story of the hardships and hurricanes that have shaped a thriving beachside community."

"Folly Island was named after its coastline which was once densely packed with trees and undergrowth, as the Old English name for such an area was "folly."  The first official document that mentions the island is a land grant from King William III to William Rivers that dates to September 9, 1696."  

Throughout many different absentee owners, the island was inhabited by the Bohicket tribe until they were forced out by the incoming European settlers.  The island was also temporary home to shipwreck survivors.

"During the Civil War, Folly was occupied by Federal troops beginning in 1863.  Despite the jungle-like foliage, the soldiers constructed roads, forts, an artillery battery, and a supply depot.  Eventually Folly had the capacity to hold up to 13,000 troops and their equipment.  The Federal army used Folly Island as its main strategic base for the battle to take Fort Sumpter."

Long after the Civil War ended, Folly became a beach retreat for residents of Charleston.  "Folly became a melting pot for the regular folks and temporary camps became permanent camps, became cottages."  I think this is what adds the character to Folly Beach.

In the 1940's an amusement park, boardwalk, shops, and a pier were constructed.  It became a musical hub "with all the big bands playing the Folly Pier from Glenn Miller to Maurice Williams."  "One of the most famous people to visit Folly Beach Island during these years was the composer and pianist, George Gershwin.  It was while staying here that he composed the classic opera, Porgy and Bess."

In 1989 Hurricane Hugo hit Folly Beach like most of the South Carolina coastline, destroying many homes but the community was quickly rebuilt.  The City of Folly Beach is currently home to 2,708 year-round residents (Isle of Palms shows 4,294 residents as a comparison) but there are a countless number of visitors "who come to enjoy this laid-back beach community full of great food, relaxing beaches and a quaint charm unlike anywhere else in the world!"

In a way, we landed here as a result of a misfortune (like the shipwreck survivors but in our case, our engine dying)--we feel very fortunate to be here!

December 1

There are at least five t-shirt shops in Folly Beach--our goal this morning was simply to visit all of them while exploring on foot.

One of our stops today was the Folly Beach Fishing Pier.  There 
were two different groups of birds on the side of the pier: 
grackles and pigeons.  This group photo 
was the pigeon group.

The original Folly Beach pier was built in 1931, back in the days of the big bands--the pier's pavilion burned in 1957.  A replacement pavilion was then built and it, too, attracted bands of the 60's and 70's and it burned in 1977.  The current pier was built in 1995 and extends over a thousand feet out into the ocean.  There is an artificial reef built under the far end of the pier for fisherman.

There were many colorful shops and
restaurants in the downtown
area of Folly Beach.

This was an old faded sign on the side of a restaurant.
Note the rusted galvanized steel siding on
the building around the sign.

We found seven shops in town that sold t-shirts and we didn't buy a single t-shirt (at least on this excursion).  The shop keepers were very friendly and helped us find the nearby attractions, including Bert's Market (an old fashioned market and sandwich shop that is always open).

In the afternoon, we took a drive to the extreme west end of the island (the orientation of the island is actually east-west even though it seems like it should be north-south) to the Folly Beach County Park.

The end of a drift fence on the dunes far
back from the ocean at low tide.

Three dead trees on an open area of the beach.

A part of a dead tree that has washed up on the beach.
This is reminiscent of "Boneyard Beach"
on Capers Island.

We drove to the eastern end of the island (after visiting the western end of the island) to plan tomorrow's trek to see Morris Island Lighthouse.

December 2

After a late breakfast, we drove about 3 miles miles and then walked another 1/2-mile to the far east end of the island to see the Morris Island Lighthouse.  Morris Island is the next barrier island to the east.  We could only get within about a mile of the lighthouse since it was located out in the ocean.

This was the first glimpse we had of the lighthouse
as we approached it from the trail.

On the far east end of the island there were stone jetties to control
the erosion.  You can see Morris Island Lighthouse
over one of these stone jetties.

Wherever the beach remains natural, free of man's influence, you
can find trees that have been killed by the beach erosion.
They make beautiful photo subjects.

There was a wooden bulkhead at the east end of the island.  This is an
old rusted nut on a bolt that fastened the structure together.
This bulkhead may be 50 or 100 years
old.  Who knows?


After our first few days in Folly Beach, we are loving it!  It reminds me a lot of the southern New Jersey shore I visited with my aunt, Mabel, while growing up.  There is a nice mixture of beach bungalows. cottages, condos, and large single family homes.  This town seems to have a lot of character as well--certainly not the (somewhat artificial) palm-lined boulevard of Isle of Palms.  There are actually normal people who live here year round, as opposed to the myriad of large vacation rental homes on Isle of Palms.  I believe that all the people we met working in the Isle of Palms Marina and Morgan Creek Grill didn't actually live on Isle of Palms because it was unaffordable for them--that's not the case here in Folly Beach.

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