What has been said about Charleston
Charleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina Lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes and other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the Lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes.” – Pat Conroy Our class will be a mixture of cultures, history, folklore, failures, fame, and an enduring testament to the people who made it and continue to make it all that it is. Our class will also be a lens to view and experience the natural wonders of its environment and its stunning beauty. We will as well learn about and appreciate the many species that find their homes here.
• 9 days & 8 nights in Charleston, SC
• Ground Transportation
• Accommodations while visiting
• Entrance fees and cost of guides when applicable.
• The cost of tuition through the Colorado School of Mines
• Expert hands-on instruction and leadership in outdoor activities in the wild as well as informational instruction
Day 1: June 2nd, Friday Arrival by 3-4 pm, hopefully!
We will meet at the Gazebo at White Point Garden at 2 Murray Blvd. We will walk the Battery in Charleston, a fortified seawall and promenade, a historical part of the peninsula that was originally fortified by cannons against unfriendly visitors. Across the street from the Battery is White Point Gardens, so named because of the white oyster shells and white sand it was built upon. The Battery offers majestic views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, the USS Yorktown, Fort Moultrie, and Sullivan’s Island lighthouse. It is lined by historic antebellum mansions and is the most exclusive area in downtown Charleston.
White Point Gardens is at the southernmost tip of the peninsula at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, which create Charleston Harbor. White Point is the site where in 1718, there was a mass execution of 49 pirates who were hanged with the intention that the dangling corpses would be visible to anyone coming to and going from Charleston. It was a clear message from Government officials.
We will continue our walking tour to Rainbow Row, one of the most visited and photographed places in the Historic District. It consists of 13 brightly-colored houses along East Bay Street on the Charleston Harbor. In the 18th century, these homes were shops and businesses on the lower level with living quarters above for Merchants and workers. These homes are some of the earliest buildings to still be standing in Charleston, withstanding numerous disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires. They were later considered slums but were preserved through the foresight and determination of a few residents in Charleston, cementing the importance of the preservation of Charleston’s history and the beginning of the Preservation Society of Charleston.
On the corner of Broad Street and East Bay, we will see the “The Exchange” or “Customs House,” which was built in 1771 to accommodate the rapidly expanding needs of the large trading & shipping business that brought reputation and wealth to the City of Charles Town. It has been a Charleston landmark for 250 years. Today, it is a non-profit historic site that focuses on the American Revolution and Colonial Charleston. During the American Revolution, British forces converted the bottom floor of the Exchange into a military prison known as the Provost or “dungeon”. American prisoners of war, British soldiers, private citizens, and enslaved people all endured its harsh confines. Many prominent Charlestonians who were separatists from British rule and their control of the wealth of the area were political prisoners in the dungeon. Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr.(signers of the Declaration of Independence), Lt. Governor Christopher Gadsden, and Col. Isaac Hayne, to name a few.
An early meeting place for local Patriots, the Exchange in 1788 hosted South Carolina leaders as they debated and approved the U.S. Constitution. Today, the Old Exchange Building remains one of only four structures where the nation’s founding document was originally ratified. Another famous visitor was George Washington. It was slated to be demolished at one point, but because of the outcry from DAR to rescue it, It was given to them. A local chapter of DAR finds its home here today, but the Old Exchange Provost is non-profit, operated, and managed by the City of Charleston. We will come back another day to see the interior and enjoy a narration of its past.
We will end our walk at Charleston Waterfront Park. It enjoys a prime location overlooking Charleston Harbor and the Cooper River, with more than 10 acres of room to roam (most of which is waterfront). Enjoy the iconic Pineapple fountain, a Charleston symbol of hospitality. We will grab some dinner at a local Tavern and discuss the week ahead.
Day 2: June 3, Saturday
Today will begin at 8 am and visit Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site.
This important park is located on a marshy point off the Ashley River and is only one of a handful of original settlement sites in America. In 1670 a group of English settlers first landed here and created the birthplace of South Carolina. This original place represents the earliest colonial history of Charleston. It is where Native Americans, English, Africans, and Barbadians came together to create the first successful English colony in Carolina. Here, we will experience a replica of a 17th Century Trading Vessel and an exhibit hall with interactive exhibits. The animal forest which is a natural habitat zoo of native animals such as Bison, Otters, a Bald Eagle habitat, a shorebird aviary, and many more. There are 80 acres of park gardens, a beautiful Live Oak Alley, The Legere-Waring House, six miles of trails for walking and exploring, and 664 acres of low country marshland.
We will have a picnic lunch together and discuss the similarities and differences of habitats we found here with other places we have been. We will discuss how all of these species are impacted in similar and different ways. In what ways are the environment, weather, animal, insect, birds, fish, and reptile species key players? We will talk about why this was not where the colonists decided to settle permanently, causing them to move to the Charleston Peninsula later.
After lunch, we will travel to Caw Caw Interpretive Center, a low-impact wildlife preserve that is in the Charleston County Park system. We will participate in a project implemented in partnership with the SC Sea Grant Consortium called the BioDiscovery Project. In this program, we are supplied with materials and content necessary for teachers and students to build marine sampling devices that monitor the invertebrate life found in coastal rivers and the ocean. The engineering part comes into play in that materials for a standard design are provided, but the individual creativity of students and teachers in creating prototypes to experiment with is the challenge. If time allows, we can walk around the center, which themselves are former rice fields.
Day 3: June 4, Sunday
We get an early start because of the weather and arrive at Bowens Island Road to Charleston Outdoor Adventures, where we will take a Boat along an estuary to Morris Island to Fossil Hunt. The boat will take us through pristine marshland to the uninhabited beachfront. Along the way, an experienced naturalist guide will discuss local ecosystems, wildlife, and paleontology. You will learn about South Carolina fossil history, distribution, and what you can expect to find on this unforgettable fossil-hunting adventure.
Once we reach the island, we will embark on a 3-5 mile round trip hike to a remote location where you are guaranteed to find prehistoric fossils from millions of years ago. Potential fossil finds include shark teeth from species like megalodon, mako, great white, and tiger shark. You may also come across an assortment of vertebrate fossils from marine mammals, sea turtles, marine fish, and Ice Age megafaunas like tapir, sloth, llama, bison, horse, saber-toothed cats, mammoth, and mastodon. Your guide will assist with fossil identification and help sort them for your personal collection. The walk is long but worth it.
*Charleston Museum, the oldest public museum in America, celebrating 250 years this year has a wonderful collection of these fossils. We will see these on day 8.
We will drive back to Charleston and visit the Aquarium
Day 4: June 5, Monday
We will take a boat tour to Fort Sumter National Park, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Upon our return from the Island, we will visit Patriots Point Naval and Maritime.
Museum, the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, which served active duty from WWII through Vietnam, and explore surrounding outdoor installations. The morning will be about 6 hours. We will eat lunch at Shem’s Creek, a waterway in Mount Pleasant where most days, you will see dolphins. 1 hour for lunch and discussion about our experiences earlier in the day. Next, we will visit the National Historic Park of Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island. It is a palmetto log fort where patriots defeated the Royal Navy in 1776.
Day 5: June 6, Tuesday
*History Culture and Architecture Tour.”
*Exchange and Provost Dungeon interior exploration and tour
It is important to recognize that the city “was built on slave labor, and for nearly 200 years, thrived under a slave economy” (The Post and Courier). About 60 percent of African Americans can trace their roots to Charleston today.
*Old Slave market
Day 6: June 7, Wednesday
At 9 AM, we will visit Middleton Place Plantation, located along the Ashley River in Charleston; It is a rare survivor of the American Revolution, Civil War, economic upheavals, and natural disasters. First granted in 1675, this is National Historic Landmark focusing on our nation’s complex history. Notes from their website: “For over two and a half centuries, these manicured landscaped gardens have welcomed visitors worldwide. Stroll through vast garden rooms, visit the heritage breed livestock in the Stable yards, and learn skills performed by the enslaved through live demonstrations by our resident blacksmith, potter, and other textile workers. Daily outdoor tours reveal three centuries of stories of men and women, free and enslaved, who participated in the building and stewardship of this American icon.
We will travel to James Island to McCloud Plantation Historic Site. We will have an informational picnic lunch across the street at a pavilion overlooking Wappoo Creek, which runs into the Ashley River, and visit a slave burial site there. McCloud Plantation Historic Site was established in 1851 as a cotton plantation which was less typical in the area. It is an important 37-acre (much smaller than in its heyday). Gullah/Geechee heritage site has been carefully preserved in recognition of its cultural and historical significance. We will tour the plantation homes and compare the McLeod family home with those built for enslaved families.
Some focus points
• What was daily life like? What were the relationships among the men, women, and children who lived and worked here before and after slavery?
• Understand the cultivation and process as well as know the importance of sea island cotton.
• Gain insight into the plantation’s strategic importance during the Civil War
• Trace the emergence of Gullah Culture in the Lowcountry.
• Compare this plantation to Middleton Place Plantation.
Finally, we will visit Charleston Tea Plantation.
In the 1700s, the Camellia Sinensis plant first arrived in the United States from China. Over the next 150 years, many unsuccessful attempts were made to propagate this plant and produce tea. In 1888, Dr. Charles Shephard founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, SC, and for the first time, tea was being grown in the United States. Dr. Shephard died in 1915, but the tea continued to grow wild for the next 48 years on the Pinehurst Tea Plantation. In 1963, the tea plants were transplanted to the Charleston Tea Plantation. Today we will take a factory tour and learn about the history of tea, take a scenic 45-minute trolley ride around the 127-acre farm, and stroll around the grounds. There is an opportunity to purchase some of these delicious tea flavors.
Day 7: June 8, Thursday
Kiawah Island is a barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean, about 21 miles from Charleston, South Carolina. The Heron Park Nature Center offers nature tours, butterfly, birding, and alligator walks. The great egret rookery is home to dozens of these beautiful white birds, which you can see perched in trees in the lagoon. Beachwalker Park has a wide boardwalk winding through oaks, palmettos, and pines.
Travel to Johns Island and see the Angel Oak living oak tree
Day 8: June 9, Friday
We will take in The Charleston Museum, the oldest museum in America, the Hayward-Washington House and the Manigault House.
We will continue to The old covered Market and The Powder Magazine, where they stored gunpowder for the Revolutionary War, and Visit St Philips (an important church in
Charleston) and The Circular Congregational Church is an all-inclusive church that focuses on the environment. This church has very interesting architecture (there are no corners for the devil to hide, thus the name). While there, we will visit their early graveyards and cemeteries and meet the early founders and important characters residing there.
Make a stop at the visitor center.
End the day with dinner together and a recap of the week. Participants fill out all documents for the class. Visit the harbor for Sunset and a last look at this beautiful city.
Day 9: June 10 Saturday
Check out and enjoy a free day to explore on your own.