Marie McAden



Watch the sunrise from atop historic Hunting Island lighthouse

Posted 3/6/2013 11:05:00 AM

Hunting Island State Park is offering the public a rare chance to see a sunrise from atop its historic 19th century lighthouse — a perk once reserved for lighthouse keepers.

The only lighthouse in South Carolina open to the public, the black and white conical structure was built to warn sailors to keep away from the island’s shallow shoreline. Decommissioned in 1933, it still retains a functional light in its tower.

Interpretive Ranger Mitchell Helms will lead groups of 10 up the 175 steps to the top of the lighthouse at 7 a.m. March 16, 23 and 30. From the 130-foot observation deck, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the Atlantic Ocean, the surrounding maritime forest and, of course, South Carolina’s spectacular sunrise.

During the tour, Helms will share the history of the Hunting Island lighthouse. The original structure, built in 1859, was destroyed by Confederate forces in the early days of the Civil War to prevent the Union from using it as a means of navigation.

A new lighthouse was built in 1875 using interchangeable cast-iron sections so it could be dismantled and moved should the ocean ever encroach upon it. Severe erosion forced the lighthouse to be relocated 1.3 miles inland in 1889.

You must be at least 44 inches tall to participate in the lighthouse tour. Cost is $25 per person and includes park admission. To sign up for one of the three climbs, call (843) 838-2011.

Want to learn more about Hunting Island State Park? Click here.