This sign welcomes visitors to Garris Landing and the ferry dock at Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge. Long ago, the refuge was home to South Carolina Native Americans. It now offers a glimpse into the natural environment in which these tribes lived.
The Sewee Indians lived here long before white settlers arrived in the late 1600s. They hunted and fished in Cape Romain’s many rivers and creeks, and their diet consisted largely of shellfish, including shrimp, clams, and oysters. You can see evidence of this along the Shell Ring Trail which stretches from the Awendaw Clam Mound. (These are located on the edge of Francis Marion National Forest, which is adjacent to Cape Romain.)
History has it that the English landed at Bulls Island, where they met the Sewee Indians and enjoyed a harmonious friendship for many years, until the Yemessee War of 1715. Bulls Bay was once known as a hideout for pirates who plundered the coast. The ruins on Bull Island are believed be a martello, built in the early 1700s to serve as a lookout tower.
In 1925, New York banker Gayer Dominick purchased Bulls Island as a private hunting preserve. He built a house there and made improvements to attract birds. In 1936, Dominick gave the island to the US Fish and Wildlife Service so that it could become part of the Cape Romain Refuge, which was established four years prior.