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Level 6

Level 6 The era of modern day Hilton Head Island effectively began with the 1956 bridge. Since that time, Charles Fraser initiated the process of crafting Sea Pines Plantation – the signature of which is the Harbour Town Lighthouse. His vision was based on protecting the natural beauty of the land – wrapping human environments within the natural landscape of this sea island rather than imposing man and his structures upon it. His ideas included: “No building taller than the tallest tree”; “Paint in natural earth tone colors”; “Make the oceanfront available to as many as possible, while disturbing as few as possible.” Quite different than the developers of his era, Charles Fraser saw community building as a means of...

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Level 5

Level 5 After 1869, while Hilton Head Island slept under the warm Carolina sun, it became enriched by the Gullah culture but remained isolated from mainland culture. During the early 1940s, three families came into ownership of large tracts of land covering much of the island. These families formed a lumber cutting consortium and actively cut and barged Southern Pine to paper factories in Savannah and elsewhere. The island became a hunting and fishing paradise for Northern sportsmen. But, in 1956, Hilton Head Island experienced another dramatic change. A swing bridge was constructed to the island, which spanned the Intracoastal Waterway. Suddenly it was no longer a slow ferryboat ride to the island, just a short trip over the bridge....

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Level 4

Level 4 The end of the Civil War came as swiftly and dramatically as the beginning. In a matter of days, the troops were packed up and shipped off to their homes. The island was suddenly left alone. In the wake of the Civil War, Hilton Head was a population consisting primarily of freed slaves, many of whom were granted 30 acres and a mule. A few of the confiscated plantations were sold off for $1 per acre, some redeemed by their owners as payment of back taxes. During the subsequent quiet period, the Gullah culture flourished and blossomed into a Freedmen’s lifestyle. Native islanders (former slaves) took up subsistence farming and fishing while building neighborhoods, churches, and schools. Their...

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Level 3B

Level 3B In 1790, shortly after the Revolutionary War, an island planter named William Elliott II grew his first crop of a “long-staple, silk- fibered, smooth-seeded cotton,” which quickly became known as “Sea Island” cotton. Almost overnight it brought great riches to those who planted it. The markets in Europe gobbled it up. The wealth these planters amassed from 1790 to 1825 made them among the richest families in early America! Growing this product required intensive labor; thus, the extensive use of slave labor flourished in these sea islands and Hilton Head as well. Hilton Head was the site of hard-working, productive farms owned by wealthy planters. They typically built grand homes away from the sea islands in climates cooler...

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Level 3A

Level 3A South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union over the issue of slavery. After the fall of Ft. Sumter to Union forces, President Lincoln developed a plan to blockade all Southern ports to prevent the Confederate forces from supplying its troops. Hilton Head Island became a strategic target for this blockade. On November 7, 1861, the largest Naval and amphibious forces ever mounted to date entered Port Royal Sound and devastatingly bombarded Ft. Walker (now in Port Royal Plantation) and killed off the Confederate defenders. Over 12,600 federal troops invaded Hilton Head and effectively ended the Era of the Great Plantations. During the Civil War the population of Hilton Head Island soared to over 50,000...

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