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.

Shem Creek Mt. Pleasant Aerial

Larry Gleason, Aiken Aerial Photography, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

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.

Shem Creek Charleston County

Andy Hunter of Denmark, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

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 Dusk

Mark Wickliffe of Charleston, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

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.

Shem Creek SC

Paul Mulkey of James Island, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

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.

Shem Creek in the 1970s

Lea Roberts of Mt Pleasant, 1970s © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

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.

Shem Creek Aerial

Larry Gleason, Aiken Aerial Photography, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Today Shem Creek is a favorite watering hole, where tourists and locals alike go to enjoy everything the Lowcountry has to offer. Do you know more we should add about Shem Creek? Please let us know!

Shem Creek Stalwarts

Mike Lempert of Mt Pleasant © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Suzette Morganelli of Columbia, 2006 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Shem Creek Mt. Pleasant

V. P. Lempert of Pawleys Island, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Shem Creek Trawlers

Mike Lempert of Mt Pleasant © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Elizabeth Gurley of Charleston, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Shem Creek @ night, boats and lights

E. Karl Braun of North Charleston, 20128 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

SC Picture Project Contributors Reflect on Shem Creek

Lea Roberts, who shared our oldest photo of Shem Creek, says, “I took the picture at the Shem Creek Bridge in the 1970s. I was using a new camera and not quite sure of the settings, so it came out a bit grainy. But after looking at the print, I thought the graininess added to the mystique and atmosphere. You can still stand in the spot today and get great shots of shrimp boats, but there are restaurants and businesses lining both sides of the creek. Sometimes progress is bittersweet.”

Charleston resident Elizabeth Gurley, who shared her photo above, 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.”

Shem Creek Map

Shem Creek – 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 Shem Creek, 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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7 Comments about Shem Creek

Margaret Sluder says:
October 3rd, 2014 at 1:12 am

I think that this is a good web site it just needs more information on it.

MarthaNo Gravatar says:
July 23rd, 2014 at 7:42 am

Invited to kayak on Shem Creek. Looks lovely.

E. Karl BraunNo Gravatar says:
March 20th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Re: Mark Snyder All of mine can be bought, either email me or hit the link on my name under the photo or in the body of the descriptions and it will take you to my website. If a picture isn’t there, let me know and I’ll get it there. I have even been known to discount the price as well!

Mark SnyderNo Gravatar says:
March 12th, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I love these photos, can they be bought? I have come to Charleston and Mt pleasant for years. I have a lot of my own pictures but I like thes also.

William says:No Gravatar says:
July 31st, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I once worked my summer vacation on a shrimp boat out of this creek, and this was back in the 1970’s. It was a lot of fun, but also hard work to. I was 14 at the time. The shrimp processing plant was bustling with life as the shrimp were brought back to port from a long outing that started around 3 am for us, or sometimes even earlier than that each morning way before dawn and yet all depending. The trip then ended around 5 PM that afternoon and yet all depending. We would be preparing for sea sometimes while patrons/tourist visited the once known “Light House Seafood Restaurant”, which was across the water way or on the other side of the creek from us and our boat. I think the light house is still there to this day in front of the newly named restaurant that is there now. I think the name has since changed to another since that time so (correct me if I am wrong). Back then the people would get a wonderful eye view of the activities in which we always were proud to be a part of, that was sometimes seen by them in our preparations for shrimping at sea that very evening for the next days trip.

The processing plant is now a hotel I think, but the deep sea fishing boat/company that parked right next to the bridge (I think) is still operating there. The pilot of the commercial fishing boat would come in and appear as if he was going to hit this bridge when spinning the boat around to dock it, and would just miss the bridge during this maneuver, giving the tourist aboard an unforgettable ride of a lifetime…LOL

The creek would be teaming with porpoise at times, that would be hoping to get a hardy meal from the processing plant, if we were to throw anything over the side for them.

It was a grand summer for sure.

Great tourism spot back then, as it still is to this day. It has changed a lot since my childhood days, but the memories have lasted for a life time since that period now looking back.

Anyone have pic’s of the old processing plant when in operation once there? It was a part of this creek and the activities that went on back in those days upon it. Thanks

Jospehine HamiltonNo Gravatar says:
March 7th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Can’t believe how busy the creek used to be! That’s neat.

WillNo Gravatar says:
March 6th, 2012 at 9:23 pm

GREAT PHOTOS! I just love these!



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