Way Back Wednesday: The King’s Highway

Way Back Wednesday

A remaining section of the old King’s Highway, the colonial route from Charleston, S.C., to Boston, is seen near McClellanville, S.C., on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. The Nature Conservancy manages the forest land on the left side of the road. On Thursday officials announced the award of a grant for a forest preservation project in South Carolina from the Forestland Stewards Program. International Paper has donated $7.5 million and is working with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the program to restore and protect more than 200,000 acres of forest land in eight southeastern states reaching from the Carolinas to Texas. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

Charleston, S.C. (WCBD) – It’s Wednesday and that means it is time to explore the history that surrounds the Lowcountry. This week we turn our focus to The King’s Highway.

Built on the order of Charles II in the 17th century, the highway ran about 1,300 miles from Boston to Charleston and linked all thirteen colonies.

The South Carolina section crossed the North Carolina line just above Little River on the way to Georgetown. According to the South Carolina Encyclopedia, the highway then grazed the Santee before passing through McClellanville and reaching Charleston. The route to Savannah followed higher ground away from the coast to avoid the Edisto, Combahee, and Broad River basins.

The South Carolina Encyclopedia says the segments were built at different times by the individual colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries.

“Even at its best, the condition of the route was seldom good. Narrow roads, ruts, mud, obstructions, and poorly maintained bridges and ferries were just a few of the inconveniences to be expected. The section between Wilmington and Charleston was judged by some travelers to be “the most tedious and disagreeable of any on the Continent.””

The South Carolina Encyclopedia

A historical marker located in Myrtle Beach explains that it took at least two months for wagons averaging about 20-25 miles per day to complete the entire journey up the coast.

Today, sections of US Highway 17 follow the original layout.

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