Ashley River – Charleston, South Carolina
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The Ashley River winds through South Carolina’s Lowcountry and eventually joins the Cooper River to form the Charleston Harbor. The blackwater river, or freshwater river stained with tannins, begins in Berkeley County, flows to Summerville alongside Colonial Dorchester, and continues around 17 miles to the harbor before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Ashley River was the first designated South Carolina Scenic River in the Lowcountry. It was named for Anthony Ashley Cooper, who was Earl of Shaftesbury in the 1600s and one of South Carolina‘s eight Lords Proprietors. He was also an important philosopher of his time, who along with John Locke wrote the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina in 1669. At the time the document was “the unalterable form and rule of Government forever” in Carolina. “Carolina” originally also included the land between present-day Virginia and Florida.
The tidal river was ideal for growing rice, which depended on the regular submersion of crops. Subsequently, English planters established rice plantations along the Ashley River from Summerville To Charleston, and several remain as museums. Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, and Drayton Hall are all open to the public and afford unadulterated views of the Ashley River. Remnants of rice fields are also visible along this Lowcountry river.
Reflections on Shem Creek Park
Contributor Cynthia Jarrell says of her photo: “I just happened to be driving along Lockwood Drive in downtown Charleston and saw this explosion of color. I pulled over and set up as quickly as I could on the sidewalk that follows along the river’s edge. As I continued to shoot I noticed the tour ship the Schooner Pride entering the scene, and I just couldn’t resist capturing its sails filled with the colors of sunset.”
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