I truly love lighthouses and will go to almost any lengths to see them. Even if I am making a return visit, such as this time. I had visited the Morris Lighthouse on a previous visit to Charleston. Yet I knew I had to go back again before leaving to go home.
I packed up my car and headed out from the convention center, determined to make my way to Folly Beach before the sunset. The thought of walking the path to the lighthouse in the dark isn’t exactly something I wanted to do. The weather seemed in no way willing to cooperate. It was pouring, gusty and, by now, blustery cold. Yet I diligently made my way to Folly Beach and down the road that would lead me to my final destination. The rains were not letting up and I was preparing myself mentally for a long, soggy, and cold ride home. Finally, I get there, giving me only a short window of opportunity before darkness would fall. I pulled into the parking area and all of sudden the rains let up. It's as if God is allowing me a peaceful visit with an old friend.
I make my way from the parking lot down the ¼ mile walkway to the beach. The pathway is only somewhat maintained so a trip at night should only be done with a group. Soon enough, as I near a hill, the lighthouse comes into view. I pull out my camera and start to snap away and trying to dry off the lenses so my pictures don’t come out a blur. As I watch the waves pounding the little patch of land the lighthouse now sits on, I hope that one day she will be safely brought to shore so that all can enjoy her.
There has been an active beacon on this patch of land from 1673 to 1962. Morris Island, also known as the Old Charleston Light, was the third such beacon to steer ships to safety. This brown and white light has stood since 1876 and stands 161 feet tall. In 1939 the keeper’s quarters feel into the waters and now the light is completely encased by water.
The light sits on a concrete foundation that is 8 feet thick and sits on piles driven 50 feet into the mud. This once saved the light when an earthquake struck in 1886. Yet today it is part of what is making a restoration effort daunting. In 1962 the light was replaced by the nearby Charleston Light. That light still stands and is used as an activate guide to navigation. The light its self is closed to the public but can be viewed from Sullivan Island beach.
The lighthouse is currently listed on the endangered list by Lighthouse Digest Magazine. There is however hope for this beacon, thanks to the monumental efforts of a wonderful group known as the Save the Light Organization.
It was announced on March 30 of this year that finally the first phase of the preservation plan could begin. Work will begin in May. It involves stabilizing the piles in which the light rests. It is hoped that the light can be saved eventually and reopened to the public to enjoy as many other lights nearby have been.
Now, should you be in the area on May 1st, please attend the Save the Light Night from 6:30 to 9:30pm and which includes a silent auction. Or if you’re a local business, please make a generous donation to the auction. Please visit the group’s web site at www.savethelight.org.
This is a comprehensive website dealing with all things lighthouse related. They have a lighthouse search engine, gift shop, and they publish a wonderful monthly magazine called Lighthouse Digest. Best of all, all purchases from them help save lighthouses like Morris Island.
American Lighthouses. A definitive Guide by Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones .
Lighthouse Spotters Guide by Michael J. Rhein .
Both great resources for lighthouse hunting. Available from your favorite book seller or better yet purchase one from Lighthouse Depot and help save a lighthouse.
www.seakayaksc.com offers kayaking tours to the light.
I was very grateful for my short time here. Wanting to get to my car before dark, I soon had to turn back towards the road. Sure enough, as soon as I got back into my van, the skies opened up once again. Look for a small parking area on the right just before the entrance to the light. There is a paved ¼ mile walkway to the beach.
I encourage you to take the time out and see this beautiful and historical structure and help in the ongoing efforts to save this magnificent light.
Very highly recommended