Sea Cloud Plantation - Driving Tour Stop #11 (3.8 miles)

Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve

Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area is a 4,700-acre of protected land near the northern end of Edisto Island.  Though by no means unknown, it offers a much more peaceful and relaxing destination for nature-lovers than the crowded beaches nearby.  Botany Bay is also a place with a long human history.  Archaeological evidence has shown the portion of the property known now as 'Indian Point' was inhabited as far back as 2500 B.C. by the Cusabo natives. As happened with many tribes, the arrival of Europeans and their diseases meant that by 1728 the Cusabo had completely disappeared.  Soon after, by the 1800's the fertile landscape was all but cleared or forest to make way for agriculture.  Cotton was the most profitable crop and two large plantations were located here, named Bleak Hall Plantation and Sea Cloud Plantation. Prior to the Civil War these neighboring plantations were busy places, the fields worked by dozens if not hundreds of slaves. After the war, as so many plantations did, Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud slowly fell into ruin.  Farming here lasted into the early 1900's with timber harvesting also becoming common.  In the 1930's Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud combined property to become Botany Bay Plantation.  The property was gifted to the State in 1977, with its public opening finally taking place in 2008.

Today the main attractions at Botany Bay are the 6.5-mile driving tour loop and the short trail out to what is know as 'Boneyard Beach'.  The driving tour shows off the best of the preserve, and a brochure explaining the many numbered stops can be obtained from the kiosk at the entrance.  Ruins of both former plantations can be seen along the loop, as well as a wonderful diversity of natural environments...from expansive salt marshes to majestic groves of pine and oak. The boneyard beach isn't to be missed either.  A short, flat half-mile trail leads from a large parking area across the salt marsh to the oceanfront.  Once on the beach, the bleached skeletons of countless trees can be seen both along the sand and a good distance out into the Atlantic.  These old trees, once part of the dense maritime forest still seen immediately inland, were done in by the unrelenting erosive forces of the ocean and the resultant salt water poisoning.  Though these boneyard beaches are fairly common along the southeast coast, this is no doubt one of the most expansive. 

This album is intended to give you a general overview of what you'll experience should you decide to visit Botany Bay.  With the auto tour portion of the album, I've quoted either the driving tour brochure available at the entrance or interpretive signage located at the tour stop.  The hike out to Boneyard Beach is also in here, and I'm sure after browsing the pics you'll see why it's a must-see on a visit here.  I was more than impressed with what I found at Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve.  Anyone visiting Edisto Island who appreciates history and/or natural beauty should absolutely add this wonderful place to their itinerary.  That said, I'll let the photos speak for themselves.  Come along as I set out to explore Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management always, I hope you ENJOY!


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