Hunting Island Lighthouse

150 anniversary lighthouse 150th lighthouse anniversary

Hunting Island Lighthouse 150th Anniversary Celebration Success
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October 15-18, 2009


Lighthouse History

The first lighthouse on Hunting Island, originally constructed of brick in 1859, was built to guide vessels along the coast between Charleston and Savannah, Georgia, and into Port Royal Sound, an important deep-water coal and shipping port. It warned ships around the dangerous shoals, sandbars, and reefs along this stretch of the South Carolina coast. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers destroyed the light station to prevent the Union Army from using it for navigation.

hunting island lighthouse

Reconstructed in 1875 with its distinctive black and white coloring, the new lighthouse was designed to be moved in case of barrier island erosion. A segmented, cast iron skeleton, lined with brick, allows the spiral staircase to be removed and the tower to be disassembled. Indeed, within a few years, the sea had cut away the northern end of the island endangering the lighthouse and associated outbuildings. In 1889, it was moved one mile southeast of the old site, where it still stands today. The following year the keeper's dwelling, oil-house, and other buildings were relocated to the new lighthouse site. A road for the dock and tram were also constructed to transport the barrels of oil for the light.

The lighthouse was active until June 16, 1933. In 1994, the South Carolina Park Service installed a decorative light to bring to mind the historical use of the lighthouse to the thousands of visitors to the State Park and lighthouse each year.

spiral stairsFriends of Hunting Island State Park volunteers have renovated the outbuildings and collected lighthouse artifacts circa 1900. We have also completed archaeological digs at the cistern and the keeper's house. A team of Park staff and volunteer Friends are pledged to carry on the preservation of this historic landmark. Don't miss the diorama of the future of our lighthouse grounds at the Visitor Center.

The Friends hosted a gala event at the lighthouse for the 75th anniversary of South Carolina State Parks in the summer of 2008, and are planning a larger event to celebrate the 150 year anniversary of the lighthouse in 2009. Watch the website for more details.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Hunting Island Lighthouse, one of eight light stations on the South Carolina coast, is the only one open to the public. The climb to the top offers a spectacular view of the beach, surrounding waterways, other islands and the Atlantic Ocean. Please visit soon!

Park Admittance Fees: $4 Adults 16+; $2.50 Seniors SC residents 65+; $1.50 Youth 6 to 15 years; Under 6 free. Information 843-838-2011.

Lighthouse hours: Daylight Savings Time: 10:00AM–4:45PM. Standard Time: 10:00AM–3:45PM. Fee to climb the Lighthouse: $2 per person. Must be 44" tall.

Hunting Island Lighthouse FAQs

  • • 1859: First Lighthouse on Hunting Island (built of brick) - destroyed during Civil War
  • • 1875: Rebuilt with interchangeable curved cast iron panels each weighing 1,200 lbs, interior solid brick wall
  • • 1889: disassembled and moved 1and 1/4 mile from rapidly eroding northern point of island
  • • Second Order Fresnal Lens
  • • Lighthouse displayed light 133' above mean high tide which could be seen 18 miles at sea
  • • Decommissioned June 16, 1933
  • • 1938-1942: Civilian Conservation Corps builds connecting roads to mainland and creates Hunting Island Park
  • • June 9, 1938: fire destroyed light-keeper house and 2/3 of maritime forest, marines assisted the CCC for 3 days in putting out the fire
  • • 1940-1941: 5,717 visitors to the island, brought to halt with outbreak of World War II
  • • Several branches of military were stationed on Hunting Island. Army Air Corps used lighthouse as a radio station in April, 1942
  • • November, 1942: Coast Guard used Hunting Island to protect coastline during World War II
  • • 1966: Hunting Island State Park was completely desegregated


Structure: Hunting Island State Park Lighthouse
#70000561 in NRIS (National Register Information System)
Also known as Hunting Island Lighthouse
Publisher: National Park Service
Published: 06/05/1970
17 mi. SSW of Beaufort on U.S. 21, Beaufort
Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer: US Coast Guard
Architectural Style: No Style Listed
Area of Significance: Engineering, Commerce
Period of Significance: 1875-1899, 1925-1949
Owner: State
Historic Function: Transportation
Historic Sub-function: Water-Related
Current Function: Transportation
Current Sub-function: Water-Related

NRIS Text NRIS Photo