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Archive for south carolina

America’s Kazoo Factory

By Linda Tancs

Beaufort, South Carolina, may be best known for its waterfront and period mansions, a place for quiet relaxation. You can break the silence, though, at the Kazoobie Kazoo Factory, the site of America’s only plastic kazoo factory. You can take a guided factory tour and make your own kazoo. The facility also includes a museum showcasing the history of this musical invention and boasts the largest collection of kazoos and related memorabilia available to the public.

Bodacious Trees in South Carolina

By Linda Tancs

South Carolina is not lacking in bodacious trees, even champions. Literally. A champion tree is the largest of its species according to a standard measuring formula based on trunk circumference, tree height and average crown spread. They’re the star attraction at Congaree National Park, where you’ll find two champions for every three square miles. In fact, the park represents one of the tallest temperate deciduous forests in the world, the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. A great way to experience it is by canoeing or kayaking on the Cedar Creek Canoe Trail. You’ll learn even more if you take one of the limited, reservation-only, ranger-guided canoe tours.

America’s First Museum

By Linda Tancs

Founded in 1773, Charleston Museum is touted as “America’s First Museum.” It was established by the Charleston Library Society on the eve of the American Revolution and focuses on the South Carolina Lowcountry. The collections include natural history, historical material culture and both documentary and photographic resources. Among the permanent exhibitions a highlight is Kidstory, a series of interactive displays for children providing the opportunity to examine creatures under a microscope, hear stories of the Lowcountry and illuminate a lighthouse, among other things.

South Carolina Military History

By Linda Tancs

The South Carolina Military Museum is one of the largest National Guard museums in the country. Boasting a vast array of artifacts ranging from period and authentic firearms, edged weapons, uniforms, artillery pieces, and armored fighting vehicles, the museum tells the story of the South Carolina militia and its evolution into the National Guard. Located in Columbia, admission is free.

Drayton’s Palace

By Linda Tancs

Drayton Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, has a storied history. Home to one of the state’s leading colonial families, it was founded by John Drayton, was later saved from destruction during the Civil War by Dr. John Drayton and witnessed the presence of German Jaegers during the Revolutionary War. Known in the 1700s as Drayton’s Palace, it’s the first fully executed example of Palladian architecture in North America. The house is set amidst a lush riverside garden and the great lawn, landscaped as an expression of an 18th-century gentleman’s country seat. The home hasn’t been furnished or decorated to represent any particular era but it has been preserved in its natural state, the oldest preserved plantation house in America still open to the public. New this year is the Sally Reahard Visitor Center, including an orientation hall, education center and exhibition galleries. Professionally guided house tours begin on the half hour and last 50 minutes.

America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens

By Linda Tancs

Home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens, Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the gardens were planned by Henry Middleton, a planter and public official whose son Arthur became a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Its 65 acres are ablaze year round with blooms: camellias in winter, azaleas in spring and a collection of kalmia, magnolias, crepe myrtles and roses in summer. A trained garden interpreter leads a discussion of the garden design, history and horticulture. Guided tours include the Middleton family home, where original portraits, furniture, silver, china and documents belonging to family members are on display.

Neoclassical Splendor in Charleston

By Linda Tancs

Located near High Battery in Charleston, South Carolina, the Nathaniel Russell House Museum is widely recognized as one of America’s most important Neoclassical dwellings. A wealthy merchant in the region (Charleston boasted a per capita of wealth nearly four times that of all the American colonies), the interior finishes and architectural details reflect Russell’s original home. The house is furnished with an outstanding collection of fine and decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries, the kinds of gems available for viewing at the annual Charleston Antiques Show.

America’s Only Tea Plantation

By Linda Tancs

Located on picturesque Wadmalaw Island in the heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, Charleston Tea Plantation is the home of America’s homegrown tea, American Classic Tea. A historical treasure, every Camellia Sinensis plant growing on the grounds of the plantation is a direct descendent of the 1888 crop grown by Dr. Charles Shepard, who founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, South Carolina. He produced award-winning American tea until his death in 1915. Thereafter, his tea plants were transferred to a potato farm on Wadmalaw Island that later became the plantation beloved today. The plantation is open year round, and harvesting and production are in full swing now. In fact, the plants’ blooming season is at its peak. Enjoy the beauty of the fields with a trolley ride and have a cuppa. The grounds are located right off Maybank Highway.

A Chieftain’s Table

By Linda Tancs

Legend has it that South Carolina’s Table Rock got its name from a Cherokee chieftain who used a ledge of Table Rock Mountain as a dining table to feast on the bounty of his hunt. Indeed, long before this area of the Blue Ridge Mountains become Table Rock State Park (one of 47 state parks), its Cherokee inhabitants named it Sah-ka-na-ga, the Great Blue Hills of God. The extensive trail system carries hikers past streams and waterfalls to the top of Table Rock and Pinnacle mountains. Pinnacle Mountain is the highest peak located entirely within the state.

History on the Waterfront

By Linda Tancs

History awaits along the waterfront at Patriots Point in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. That’s where you’ll find the USS Yorktown, the 10th aircraft carrier to serve in the U.S. Navy. Originally named Bon Homme Richard, it was renamed Yorktown in honor of the Yorktown that was sunk during the Battle of Midway in 1942. The carrier participated significantly in the Pacific Theater, earning 11 battle stars for service during World War II. It was decommissioned in 1970 and later towed from New Jersey to Charleston to serve as the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

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