Spanning some 629,000 acres, the forest provides protection for threatened and endangered wildlife and fish species. It also offers numerous trails and areas for camping and recreation.
The forest was named for renowned South Carolina Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, who was known as the Swamp Fox. He and his soldiers moved through these swamps and marshlands, planning their surprise attacks on British soldiers. Marion learned this type of guerrilla warfare by observing American Indian fighting techniques.
The Sewee Indians occupied this area during the 1600s and left behind a multitude of artifacts. According to Tim Penninger, an Awendaw historian who wrote a book about such artifacts, the tribe met the English settlers when they arrived at Bulls Bay in 1670. The natives welcomed the newcomers by placing them on their shoulders and carrying them off to a great feast. The tribe and settlers lived in harmony for many years, trading furs and supplies.
However, by 1715 the Sewees had begun to feel they were no longer being treated fairly by the English. They banded with neighboring tribes in the Yemassee War.
Today, the Francis Marion National Forest continues to meet new challenges and make its mark on surrounding communities. Hurricane Hugo ravaged the forest in 1989, leveling more than one third of its trees. As new trees and plants began to grow, so did the threat of catastrophic fire. Forest rangers began the challenging task of clearing the hazardously dense trees and brush – turning the resulting biomass into a local energy source. This practice still continues today.
Learn more about the Francis Marion National Forest by visiting the official website here.