Botany Bay – Edisto Island, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Charleston County Photos | Botany Bay
Botany Bay is a 4,687-acre wildlife preserve located on Edisto Island. It came under the management of the SC Department of Natural Resources in 2008 as a part of the agency’s Wildlife Management Area Program.
The early history of Botany Bay can be traced back to two plantations – Bleak Hall Plantation and Sea Cloud Plantation. Bleak Hall was originally developed by the Townsend family in the early 1800s. By the mid-1800s, owner John Townsend had purchased the adjoining Sea Cloud Plantation and was producing more cotton than any other plantation in South Carolina. Townsend was renowned for the quality of his sea island cotton, a variety prized for its unusually long and silky fibers.
About a year after South Carolina’s secession from the Union, Edisto Island was evacuated and subsequently occupied by the Union army. The Civil War proved devastating to the island and its plantations. Townsend and his descendants worked hard to rebuild what was left and continued producing the famous sea island cotton until the early 1920s, when the boll weevil all but destroyed the cotton industry in South Carolina.
The plantations remained in the Townsend family until the 1930s, when Dr. James Greenway combined them and renamed the property Botany Bay Plantation. Botany Bay was acquired by John Meyer in 1973. Before Meyer died in 1977, he deeded the property to the state to be used as a wildlife preserve, but only after the death of his wife, Margaret.
While living there during the remainder of her lifetime, Margaret took great care to protect the land and to foster a diverse array of habitats throughout the property, including maritime forests, salt marshes, tidal creeks, and hammock islands.
Today, recreational opportunities at Botany Bay include seasonal hunting, catch and release fishing, birding, and an interpretive driving trail.
Address: Botany Bay Road off SC 174, Edisto Island, SC 29438