South Carolina

Sullivan’s Island – Charleston County, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County Photos  |  Sullivan’s Island

Just across the Intracoastal Waterway from Mount Pleasant is serene Sullivan’s Island. This largely residential island is home to famous Fort Moultrie and is an integral part of South Carolina history.

Sullivan's Island Beach

Steve Rich of Aiken, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Sullivan’s Island is sometimes referred to as the African Ellis Island due to it being the point of entry throughout the eighteenth century for slaves who had suffered the Middle Passage journey. However, many take exception to this comparison, noting that the immigrants who came to Ellis Island in New York arrived voluntarily, as opposed to the slaves who were captured and transported under severe and inhumane conditions.

Sullivans Island Driftwood

Christine U. Jones of Goose Creek, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Once slaves arrived, they were kept temporarily on Sullivan’s Island in “pest houses,” essentially quarantined to ensure they were healthy enough to go to market. Their time spent on Sullivan’s Island was for the purpose of making them more robust, thus more marketable to buyers. It is believed that 200,000 slaves were brought to Sullivan’s Island over the course of the international slave trade, which ended in the United States on January 1, 1808.

Fort Moultrie Aerial

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

Sullivan’s Island is likely better known for its military history. In 1776, a makeshift log fort located at the tip of Sullivan’s Island defeated British troops who were trying to enter Charleston’s harbor. The spongy palmetto logs used to build this fort deflected the barrage of British cannon balls and were the key to its success. The fort was eventually named Fort Moultrie after Colonel Moultrie who led the attack against the British. In 1860 the palmetto tree became the centerpiece of South Carolina’s state flag. Fort Moultrie, seen above, is now a National Monument.

Ben Sawyer Bridge

Vanessa Kauffmann of Charleston © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Hurricane Hugo cast destruction over the island in 1989 when the category-4 storm made landfall on Sullivan’s Island just after midnight on September 22. The Ben Sawyer Bridge (seen above), at the time the only bridge access to and from Sullivan’s Island, was severely damaged during the hurricane but was repaired and operational by October of 1989.

Sullivan's Island Lighthouse

Cindy Branscome of Isle of Palms, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The town and island recovered from the storm, and today, Sullivan’s Island is mainly residential with a small, but lively, downtown area that has many restaurants and bars. Historic Charleston is the largest city nearby and is just a short drive away.

Sullivan's Island Historic

Kenneth Dodds of Charleston, 1975 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

More Pictures of Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan's Island

Derek Thornton of Greer, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Isle of Palms Sunrise

Steve Rich of Aiken © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Isle of Palms

Steve Rich of Aiken © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Sullivan’s Island – 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 Sullivan’s Island, 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!


The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

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