Edingsville- the Lowcountry Atlantis

A Moment of Science

“Edingsville we like to call the Lowcountry Atlantis. Edingsville beach as we know it today is the shoreline just south of us, but if you look in the history books, Edingsville of the 1800s is three quarters of a mile beneath the ocean.”

Ashby Gale, Paleontologist, Charleston Fossil Adventures

Two hundred years ago, it was a part of our shoreline. A small barrier island similar to Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach, or many of the islands down near Edisto. Wealthy plantation families started settling in Edingsville in the early 1800s, crossing a lone oyster-shell causeway to get onto the island with all their belongings for a summer away from the heat and mosquitoes inland.  

Summer vacationers on Edingsville Beach in the 1800s.
Photo credit: Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society

It grew in popularity through the 19th century with roughly 50 houses as Eberson Murray, one of the community’s last residents, recanted in his memoir years later.

“Life on Edingsville was ideal…behind the big white sand dunes was the house lots, shaded by oaks and cedars. Most of these buildings were substantial two story structures, with wide verandas facing the ocean.

Unfortunately, however, Edingsville was too good to last.”

Eberson Murray, edingsville resident

Edingsville’s catastrophic conclusion came in 1885 when an unnamed hurricane battered the small barrier island as Eberson wrote, “That night both of the front beach houses collapsed. This was the end of the village of Edingsville. No one dared to live on the barrier island after that terrible experience.”

Gale points out the current location of the lost community of Edingsville- 3/4 of a mile offshore, now just an elevated patch of sand underneath the water.

Abandoned, any last remnants of Edingsville were wiped away less than a decade later with the infamous Sea Island Hurricane of 1893. Erosion finished the job- pushing the shoreline back further and further away from the now non-existent community. 

Today, relics of bone, glass, and ceramic still sometimes wash ashore today on barrier islands that may soon suffer the same fate.

Look no further than Botany Bay, another barrier island near Edisto. 

“This shoreline is a great example of what was happening to Edingsville back in the 1800s,” Gale says. “Between 1963 and 2015, there’s been about 900 feet of erosion right here at Botany Bay.”

Stories often repeat themselves. Edingsville, Botany Bay, Folly, all fighting a losing battle against erosion, both from the state of our shoreline, as well as hurricanes. Beach renourishment after storms will slow the process, but as seen nearly 150 years ago… coastal communities aren’t permanent.

Storm Team 2 Meteorologist David Dickson

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