Southern Wonders

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Our outstanding May weather has a lot of people talking about how great it is to live in the Lowcountry.  That got us to thinking about all of the wonderful places along the coast from Georgetown to Beaufort counties.

Being an aficionado of lists of all sorts, we decided to take our musings one step further – to localize the Seven Wonders of the World that we learned in school.  Our conclusion:  The Lowcountry is filled with oodles of really great settings.  So here, in no particular order, is our list of the Seven Wonders of the Lowcountry:

Ravenel Bridge.  This marvelous bridge over the Cooper River stands out as an architectural and aesthetic achievement that people can see for miles around.  If you view it at just the right angle – such as coming over the Interstate 536 bridge over the Ashley River, the cables look like sails on a big boat.

Angel Oak - reportedly the oldest thing, approximately 1,500 years old -- living or man-made -- east of the Rockies. From Wikimedia Commons.

Angel Oak.  The centuries-old tree on Johns Island is iconic of the natural beauty of our region.  Not only is the tree found on several organizations’ logos, but it provides a daily reminder to be thankful for what we have – and to protect it.

Penn Center.  Since 1862 when Quaker teachers started a school for freed blacks on St. Helena Island near Beaufort, the Penn Center has been a leading cultural and educational resource that has kept the Gullah Culture alive.  In the days ahead as the region moves forward in preserving a Gullah-Geechee corridor, the Penn Center will remain a vital cog in helping us remember lessons from the past.

Four corners of law, Charleston, SC - via Wikimedia Commons.Four Corners of Law.  The intersection of Broad and Meeting streets in Charleston represents the region’s place and respect for institutions like the church and government.  Always on the map for visiting tourists, the Four Corners and the beautiful homes and businesses nearby are part of what characterizes Charleston as Charleston.

ACE Basin.  The confluence of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers south of Charleston is a testament to the importance of preserving natural areas in the region.  Along with the Cape Romain National Wildlife to the north of Charleston, the ACE Basin’s more than 200,000 acres of protected land means the marshes, maritime forests and wildlife of our area will be preserved forever.  That’s an important message – and an important draw for tourism – as many places struggle to keep land out of developers’ hands.

East Battery Street, Charleston, SCThe Battery.  This picture postcard image for many epitomizes Charleston and its lifestyle.  The historic, colorful area from Rainbow Row to historic White Point Gardens at the tip of the peninsula is a national treasure.  It doesn’t hurt to know that the joining of the Ashley and Cooper rivers in Charleston harbor is, according to local lore, where the Atlantic Ocean starts!

Fort Sumter.  Not only is this place where the War Between the States started, but it’s an architectural marvel – a man-made island in the middle of one of the most striking natural harbors along the East Coast.  Flanked by Fort Mountrie and Fort Johnson, the harbor fortifications of Charleston played an important role in the community’s business and maritime climate for decades.

Drayton Hall Plantation near Charleston, SCIf we could add an eighth wonder to the list, it would be the plantations along S.C. Highway 61.  Just about everybody who visits Charleston imagines antebellum plantation life.  The plantations along Highway 61 – Middleton Place, Drayton Hall and Magnolia – are among the most beautiful around.  They’re not to be missed.

There’s so much neat stuff in the Lowcountry that several other places could easily qualify for the list – the Lowcountry’s marshes; the Sea Islands from Isle of Palms and Kiawah to Fripp and Hilton Head; the College of Charleston’s Cistern area; the Citadel; and Cypress Gardens.  Some Facebook friends and readers of Charleston Currents also suggested other icons of our area:  Boneyard Beach on Bull’s Island, the Morris Island lighthouse, pluff mud, the Francis Beidler Forest, the Unitarian church graveyard and Lowndes Grove Plantation.

Now that we’ve got your brain’s juices bubbling, what’s your list?  Or tell us what to remove from our list and what you would add instead.

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Andy Brack

Andy Brack

Andy Brack is a syndicated columnist in South Carolina and the publisher of StatehouseReport.com. Brack, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also publishes a twice-weekly newsletter about good news in the Charleston area, CharlestonCurrents.com. A former U.S. Senate press secretary and reporter, Brack has a national reputation as a communications strategist and Internet pioneer. Brack also is president and chairman of the Center for a Better South, a nonprofit regional think tank. Brack received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. He, his wife, two daughters and dogs live in Charleston, S.C.