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. Below are ruins from Sea Clouds.
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.
SC Picture Project Contributors Reflect on Botany Bay
Photographer Mark VanDyke, who provided an exquisite photo of Botany’s Bay entrance road, leaves visitors with these words: “Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve is a 4700 acre plot of land in Charleston County along the North Edisto River. Part of the ACE basin focus area, the plantation is quoted as part of the largest remaining relatively undeveloped wetland ecosystems along the Atlantic coast. During its early days, the plantation itself thrived from the trade of sea cotton, which was later destroyed by the introduction of the boll weevil. Opened to the public in the summer of 2008, the plantation and boneyard beach are relatively new destinations, yet already must-see spots for landscape photographers.”
Contributor Keith Briley shares his experience of capturing one of the beautiful beach scenes pictured above: “With my daughter inspiring to become a photographer for marine biology, I thought this would be a beautiful way for the two of us to spend time together on a gorgeous September morning. Much to our surprise as we were leaving the beach, we came across a few scientists who were removing eggs from sea turtle nests. They were relocating them to a safer location. Fortunately, once it was explained that my daughter was preparing for their type of work, they spent some time with us chatting about what they were involved with and encouraged her to pursue her dream!”
Botany Bay Info
Address: Botany Bay Road off SC 174, Edisto Island, SC 29438
Botany Bay Map
Botany Bay 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 Botany Bay, 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!