Shem Creek – Mt Pleasant, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Charleston County Photos | Shem Creek
Shem Creek flows through the heart of Mount Pleasant and is known for its many waterfront bars and restaurants. It also offers a variety of leisure activities including fishing, boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
The banks of Shem Creek were originally inhabited by Sewee Indians. Its name is thought to derive from the Native American word Shemee. Variations of this word include Shamee, Shembee, and Shimhee. The creek begins near present-day Bowman Road, where several small tributaries meet to form its head, and continues to wind through Mount Pleasant’s Old Village before eventually emptying into the Charleston harbor.
Shem Creek has a long history as a working creek, beginning in the 1740s when Peter Villepontoux operated a lime kiln on its banks. Several notable businessmen, including Andrew Hibben, also established successful ferries on the creek during this time. Although ferries have since given way to bridges and charter boats, Shem Creek remains one of the most popular channels in the area.
Several mills and factories were stationed on the creek during the 1800s, but commerce came to a halt during the Civil War as the mills were either destroyed or abandoned. It wasn’t until the turn of the century that the seafood industry began to take shape. By the mid-1940s, shrimping had grown into one of the most important industries in the area and several seafood companies, including the Mount Pleasant Seafood Company, had already been established on Shem Creek.
Today Shem Creek is a favorite watering hole, where tourists and locals alike go to enjoy everything the Lowcountry has to offer.
Do you have more to add about the history of Shem Creek? Please let us know!
Readers Sound Off!
Charleston resident Elizabeth Gurley says, “Here in Charleston, we jump at every opportunity to take advantage of our coastal locale. Whether you’re cruising Shem Creek, or setting sail down the Intracoastal Waterway, the scenery leaves nothing to be desired. Whether you denote the changing of the seasons by the turning of the marsh grass, or appreciate the deep-seated tradition of local shrimping, there is something for everyone to enjoy and be grateful for from this Lowcountry vantage point.”