What Is Beaufort South Carolina Known For?
Just the name of Beaufort South Carolina conjures images of hospitality, a slower pace and gracious living…as well it should. Attracting passers-by since 1512, this community is marked by antebellum architecture, moss-covered live oak trees and winding streets. Situated on Port Royal Island–adjacent to the second deepest natural harbor on the eastern seaboard–Beaufort unites American history, southern charm and a thriving commercial sector. Tourists flock to Beaufort for fishing, carriage rides, boat tours and walking tours of its classic neighborhoods. A popular vacation spot, yes, but what is Beaufort South Carolina known for? As it turns out, a good deal.
In 1706, fearing an incursion of Spaniards, the island’s proprietor, the second Duke of Beaufort, erected a fort and blockhouse as a bulwark. Properly fortified, Beaufort was chartered as a city in 1711, making it the second oldest town in South Carolina. The island became a summer retreat for mainland rice planters and indigo growers from other Sea Islands. As the Revolutionary War loomed, Beaufort was briefly the colonial capital until angry residents forced the government back to Charleston. Nevertheless, the British occupied Beaufort for nearly the entire duration of the war. The ensuing warfare and divided populace took a devastating toll on the local economy.
Yet the island always had a way of bouncing back. Planters resumed their visits to Beaufort. Even more significantly, British loyalists that fled to the Bahamas during the war sent cotton seeds to family back home. These were the “seeds” of South Carolina’s subsequent voluminous cotton output and, later, the cotton boom throughout the southern United States. By the dawn of the Civil War, Beaufort was among the wealthiest cities in America. In addition, it was a hotbed of secessionist sentiment. As with the Revolutionary War, the enemy–in this case, the Union forces–captured Beaufort first, remaining there until Reconstruction.
It is no surprise, then, that former slaves became active political participants in the island’s affairs…and the state’s. It was at this time (1868) that the first public school was established in the city. An influx of transported northerners and immigrants followed, expanding the cotton economy to other commodities like timber harvesting, phosphate mining and ship building. While the Great Depression of the 1930 hit Beaufort South Carolina as elsewhere, wise conversion of cotton facilities to other uses, shrimp trawler, e,g., helped to buffer some of the worst effects. Because of the proximity of military outposts, Beaufort enjoyed economic benefit after the outbreak of WW II. In fact, the town makes appearances in several films related to the armed forces, like The Great Santini and Forrest Gump.
Its place in history–and remembrance of the same–is central to Beaufort’s identity. With top-notch recreation and winsome residences, the city draws visitors from everywhere. What is Beaufort South Carolina known for? In brief, Beaufort witnesses history, suffers sometimes, yet always survives. Perhaps that is the secret to its attraction in the first place. Beaufort South Carolina weathers storms but is not going anywhere. To find your own slice of Beaufort Lisa Weslake can help.
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