On a very sweltering hot summer day we set out to visit an old rice plantation out in the country outside Charleston.
Beautiful sun dappled roads led us to quiet and peaceful country. Came upon this little brook:
|"Cool and Green and Shady"---hey wasn't that a John Denver song!?|
There are many miles of nicely maintained paths and trails through several different habitats. There is beautiful marsh area, swampy area and hundreds of acres of old rice fields.
Enslaved Africans used their skills, knowledge of agriculture and labor to carve out and build these old rice fields from cypress swamps. They had already been growing rice for hundreds of years in Africa. They built the floodgates, canals, and dikes to flood and drain a complex system which would drain and flood the fields.....the fields which produced the best rice in the world---the famous Carolina Gold, which was a very tasty, smooth and creamy rice. Carolina Gold made many plantation owners very very rich in that era.
The old canals and dikes are now trails.
Thousands of TONS of rice were exported from Lowcountry plantations annually.
|Isn't this a pretty scene?|
The whole area is a maze of connected trails and boardwalks. There are ricefield trails, swamp trails, and woodland trails.
Birding hotspot for sure!Mr. Front Porch brought his binoculars.
Beautiful deep shade pockets underneath the big oaks
While here you can see bottomland forest, upland forest, and salt marshes. Quite a few different habitats, with many different animals, birds, wildlife and insects. There are wild turkeys, water moccasins, deer, bob cats, otters, and of course, alligators.
There are many different birds to be spotted as well: osprey, heron, egret, blue painted bunting, bluebirds, indigo bunting, red winged blackbirds, and the majestic eagles. I have been trying to spot a colorful painted bunting for years....and still have not seen one. Maybe someday! (they are so pretty!)
|These little water gardens are scattered about on the decks and boardwalks--such a nice touch!|
A quiet spot to sit and rest.
I liked the winding boardwalks! There also used to be a 20th century tea farm located here. You might spot a few wild tea plants left.
While walking along on this boardwalk we could hear the big male gators groaning and bellowing. They can sure startle you if you are not prepared! LOL
There are reports that a huge male gator lives here and has made his home on this plantation for decades. He is very old and I've heard stories that he is everywhere from ten to 12 feet to even longer. He has ancient armor which protects him well and obviously is well adapted to his habitat and captures his prey and feeds himself quite well. He also would not be in this particular area where we were I don't think....they say he stays far far away from humans. I've heard he is anywhere from 50 to 80 or 90 years old...but who really knows? His name is "Brutus".
This is also the location of the "Stono River Rebellion" of 1739. Over 100 slaves tried to escape and go to Florida. Two dozen armed plantation owners stopped them by murdering them over a 3 or 4 month period. It can be quite sobering to stop and just think as you are wandering among these old rice fields, cypress trees and big old live oaks---just who built these fields and irrigation systems, how much back breaking work it took to build and maintain the network and to cultivate the rice---and how they were treated.
Much of their culture remains with us today in our Lowcountry music, traditions, language, art, and food. The intricate woven sweetgrass baskets we see sold today on downtown streets and around the Market and at highway stands are sold for their beauty, for collections, and for souvenirs of Charleston. They were originally made for hard work on the rice plantations.
Do you see the pretty little green rose bouquets with the grass sticking out of them in the top of the picture? I wrote about those last year here:
Flower Bouquet Sellers--Who are they?
|Summer leaves rustling in the wind|
|Bad focus Debbi, try try again!|
|Hot, sunny, windy day|
This was the best I could get of this dragonfly. The rest were just a mass of BLUR...at least here you can tell he is a dragonfly! ha ha
Many different plants and flowers here:
Pretty cattails....growing tall!
Very nice place to spend an afternoon. There is also a small but nice nature/information center. (and it's air conditioned! LOL)
Nice kitty kitty!
|Look at the BIG PAWS!|
There are restrooms and picnic tables. It is located out on Savannah Highway, and remember if you go---they close early, like at 5 pm and I think they may be closed Monday. I believe they offer nice early morning guided tours and bird watching walks as well. Be sure to take lots of water, sunscreen, hats, and insect repellant and I would advise wearing jeans and sturdy closed shoes. (just in case you run into an unfriendly creature!LOL)
What I really liked about this place is that it is a wildlife haven and also a piece of HISTORY.