The Morris Island Lighthouse is located on an island of the same name at Charleston, SC. There were two lighthouses built here prior to this one. The first light was built in 1767 after acting upon a decree from King George III to build a permanent lighthouse. It was the first in southern U.S. and stood 43-feet tall until destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The tower was rebuilt in 1790 at the southern entrance to Charleston Harbor. It stood 85-feet tall and was destroyed in 1861 during the Civil War.
A new tower, pictured above, was built in 1876. This lighthouse stands 161-feet high and has 201 steps leading to the top. In 1885, the lighthouse survived a major hurricane and in 1886 the great Charleston earthquake. At one time there was a three story keepers dwelling located a few yards from the lighthouse.
In 1938 the light was automated and shined until the beacon was extinguished in 1962. Its navigational role was then assumed by the new lighthouse on Sullivan's Island, pictured below. At the time of my visit here in 2000, the Morris Island Lighthouse was believed to still be structurally sound, despite the beating from Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Until recent years, the tower could be reached by foot at low tide from Folly Beach on James Island, SC. However, this is no longer possible because of heavy erosion.
The Sullivan's Island Lighthouse is the youngest lighthouse in the Charleston, SC area. It was built in 1962 to replace the aforementioned Morris Island Lighthouse. Unlike most lighthouses, the Charleston light, as it's known by the locals, was built of steel and has an elevator as well as stairs to the top. The light mechanism has the potential of 28 million candlepower and it thereby capable of being one of the most powerful lights in the world. The lighthouse stands 163-feet high, two feet taller than the old one on Morris Island . Originally, the tower was painted orange and white. However, those colors were not agreeable to island residents and the tower was repainted black and white. The light was automated in 1982 and is manned by the U.S. Coast Guard. The lighthouse is active and located near historic Fort Moultrie. At the time of my visit here in 2000, access into the lighthouse first had to be obtained from the Coast Guard office in Charleston.