Ben Sawyer Bridge – Sullivan's Island, South Carolina

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The Ben Sawyer Bridge connecting Mount Pleasant with Sullivan’s Island is one of nine moveable bridges remaining in South Carolina. The bridge was built in 1945, using the drawbridge from the former Pitt Street Bridge.

Ben Sawyer Bridge

Vanessa Kauffmann of Charleston © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The bridge rotates on a central axis to allow boat travel along the Intracoastal Waterway. The swing-span portion of the bridge was replaced in 2010, retaining the appearance of the original but outfitting the bridge with modern technology. When the Isle of Palms Connector was constructed in 1993, the Ben Sawyer Bridge was no longer the only road access to the beaches of Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms. The bridge is named for Aiken County native Benjamin Mack Sawyer, who served as the Chief Highway Commissioner and Executive Director of the South Carolina Department of Transportation from 1926 until his death in 1940.

The Pitt Street Bridge, also called the Cove Inlet Bridge, was built in 1898. It originally accommodated a trolley that passed over the cove, and in the 1920s the bridge was widened to allow for vehicular traffic. A drawbridge was added at this time. The trolley discontinued service in 1927, and the Pitt Street Bridge closed to traffic when this bridge was built.

When Hurricane Hugo made landfall on Sullivan’s Island just after midnight on September 22, 1989, the Ben Sawyer bridge was damaged to the extent that images of the drawbridge tilted into the waterway made national news and became an iconic image of the category-4 storm’s destruction. The bridge was quickly repaired and operating again by October. Today the Ben Sawyer Bridge continues to be a popular access to one of South Carolina’s beloved beaches.

Moveable Bridges in South Carolina

These are the only moveable bridges left in our state:

1) Harbor River Bridge – US 21 over the Harbor River – Swing bridge
2) Woods Memorial Bridge – US 21 Business over the Beaufort River – Swing bridge
3) Wando River Bridge – SC 41 over the Wando River – Scheduled to be replaced by a fixed-span bridge in 2016
4) Wappoo Creek Bridge – SC 171 – Drawbridge
5) Ben Sawyer Bridge – SC 703 over the Intracoastal Waterway – Swing bridge
6) Little River Swing Bridge – County Road 26-20
7) Socastee Swing Bridge – SC 544 (Dick Pond Road)
8-9) Ashley River Bridges – US 17 over the Ashley River – Two side-by-side drawbridges
10) Sixth Street Bridge – railroad over the Savannah River – Drawbridge (no longer functioning)

Ben Sawyer Bridge Info

Address: South Carolina Highway 703, Sullivan's Island, SC 29482

Ben Sawyer Bridge Map

Ben Sawyer Bridge – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Ben Sawyer Bridge, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

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One Comment about Ben Sawyer Bridge

Mike LovettNo Gravatar says:
January 4th, 2015 at 2:02 pm

One of the pleasant things about driving over the Ben Sawyer Bridge was seeing the American flag flying. It always gave you some indication of the wind speed, but more importantly to Vets like myself, it stirred pride in our nation. About 3 months ago, the flag disappeared. Can anyone tell me what happened to it and why it has not been replaced???

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