elow is an excerpt from 1875 in the book "The Great South." It's an account of the travels of Edward King. What interested me about this excerpt was not only the description of the area but also the impressions this traveler had of the area. Also, Parris Island was established in 1891. I find it interesting that the discussions about this base were talked about sixteen years before it actually happened. Then there is the scandal around the sale of the property but that's another post.
Port Royal Island and its chief town, Beaufort, are monuments to the disastrous effects of the revolution which has swept over South Carolina within the last generation. Everywhere on the chain of beautiful sea islands along the low coast one finds the marks of the overturn. But Port Royal, situated on the river terminating in what is perhaps the grandest harbor on the American coast, has hopes, and may bring new life to decaying Beaufort.
A railroad has penetrated the low lands, creeping across marshes and estuaries upon formidable trestles, and now drains the rich cotton-fields around Augusta, in Georgia, toward the Broad river. The town is laid out into lots, and the numbers of the avenues run ambitiously high already; an English steamship line has sent its pioneer vessel to the port; and the Home Government talks of establishing a navy-yard upon the stream.
With commercial facilities which neither New Orleans, Savannah, nor Norfolk can boast, Port Royal deserves a great future. The harbor which Ribault 300 years ago enthusiastically described as so large that "all the argosies of Venice might safely ride therein," is certainly ample for the accommodation of the largest fleets known, and is easy and safe of access.
The lowland scenery of South Carolina is as varied as tropical. From the sea the marshes, or savannahs, stretching seventy miles back from the coast, seem perfectly level; but there are in many places bluffs and eminences crowned with delicate foliage. A vast panorama, of fat meadows, watered by creeks; of salt and fresh marshes; of swamp lands of inexhaustible fertility, from which spring the sugar-cane and cypress; of the rich, firm soil, where the oak and the hickory stand in solid columns, and of barrens studded with thousands of young pines—salutes the eye.
The innumerable branches which penetrate the low-lying lands from the sea have formed a kind of checker-work of island and estuary. The forests along the banks of the streams, and scattered on the hedges between the marshes, are beautiful. The laurel, the bay, the palmetto, the beech, the dog-wood, the cherry, are overgrown with wanton, luxuriant vines, which straggle across the aisles where the deer and the fox still wander.
In the spring the jessamine and the cherry fill the air with the perfume of their blossoms; in winter the noble oaks, in their garments of moss, and the serried pines, preserve the verdure which the other trees have lost, and give to the landscape an aspect of warmth and life. When the rice plantations are submerged, and the green plants are just showing their heads above the water, and nodding and swaying beneath the slight breeze passing over the hundreds of acres, the effect is indescribably novel and beautiful.
End of quote
Below is a picture I took of one of the rivers that surrounds Port Royal, SC. Parris Island is to right. On the left of the picture where the land juts out is where the docks where the docks were located at the end of the railroad that Mr. King mentions in this post.