Lighthouse Island (formerly known as Raccoon Key)
Last Sunday I went on a Coastal Expeditions tour to Lighthouse Island – a barrier island located about six miles from McClellanville, South Carolina and accessible only by boat. The island is in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and is in a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Class 1 Wilderness Area. About 9 miles southeast of the Cape Romain Islands are dangerous shoals just beneath the surface of the water built from sediments deposited off the mouth of the Santee River. In 1823, the Lighthouse Board of the Treasury Department authorized funds to build a Lighthouse at Cape Romain. From the Coastal Expeditions website:
“Built in 1827, the conical lighthouse stands at 65 feet. Its light, powered by a whale oil wick lamp, was visible from a distance of 14 miles under the most favorable circumstances. In 1857, a 150-foot octagonal lighthouse was built. Installed on the 150-foot tower was a prismatic lens that was visible for approximately 19 miles and dramatically reduced the number of shipwrecks off the Cape. The 1857 light was taken out of service in 1947 when coastal navigation techniques made it obsolete.”
If you are fascinated by Lighthouses, and don’t mind getting off a boat in a few inches of water and walking in a bit of pluff mud – then this is a must-do, breathtakingly beautiful detour off of Highway 17. Check out Coastal Expeditions for announcements about their special Lighthouse Island tours – you’ll love the trip.