Daufuskie Island Adventure | South Carolina
- Published on: 12/16/2017
- Daufuskie Island, located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Georgia, is the southernmost inhabited sea island in South Carolina. It is 5 miles long by almost 2.5 miles wide – with an approximate surface area of 8 square miles (5,000 acres). With over 3 miles of beachfront, Daufuskie Island is surrounded by the waters of the Calibogue Sound, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Atlantic Ocean. Daufuskie is accessible only by ferry or barge, and has a full-time population of just over 400.
Daufuskie comes from the Muscogee language and means "sharp feather", for the island's distinctive shape. As early as 1523, Spanish explorers were sailing the southeastern coast of North America in search of potential settlements. By 1565, the Spanish had settled in St. Augustine, Florida, and were pushing up the coast establishing and maintaining additional colonies. Around the same time the French also made attempts at colonization in South Carolina Lowcountry areas. By the mid-1600s the English began to explore the southern coast. Captain William Hilton and Robert Sandford both made voyages to Port Royal Sound and the surrounding areas. In July 1666 Sanford entered Calibogue Sound between Hilton Head and Daufuskie.
It was during this period of early exploration that Spanish settlers introduced their distinctive Iberian horses to the Southeastern coast. Today the descendants of these horses are known as "Carolina Marsh Tacky". These sturdy, intelligent horses are particularly well adapted to the swampy and marshy lowcountry region. Examples of this rare breed can still be found on Daufuskie.
In 1684, Spanish soldiers enlisted the help of native warriors to fight Scottish settlers in Port Royal, and thus began the uneasy and difficult history of native entanglement in European settlement history. The inevitable clash of cultures culminated with the so-called Yamasee uprising that consisted of three brutal battles on the southwestern shore of Daufuskie Island between 1715 and 1717 that gave this piece of land the name it still bears today, Bloody Point.
The American Revolution brought divided loyalties to the lowcountry. Daufuskie received the nickname "Little Bermuda" during the Revolution due to the residents' Loyalist sentiments. After the Revolution, Daufuskie thrived with the introduction of world famous sea island cotton, a variety prized by European mills. High quality, sea island cotton exceeded all other long-staple cottons in fiber length, as well as fineness and strength. It was during this period of strong economic growth that several large plantation mansions were constructed.
The building of American wooden ships triggered the demand for timber from live oak trees abundant on Daufuskie. This hardwood species, unique to the southeastern coast, was prized by shipbuilders for its strength and resistance to rot, as well as its naturally curved limbs. Daufuskie was in the center of the "live oaking" trade crucial to the development of US maritime power. Shipwrights traveled to Daufuskie and the lowcountry to fell the oaks, hew them, and lug the pieces by oxen to coastal landings. The USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides", was constructed with live oak.
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