Take a walk around Beaufort, SC and you’re bound to see something that’s just a little odd, or out of place, or something that’s just a quirky signature of our town. Don’t get us wrong though, a little kookiness is definitely amusing and can even be downright charming.
From school buses filled with watermelons instead of students, to staircases that lead you to nowhere, here are a few things found around the area that locals and visitors say they love about Beaufort.
Stairs To Nowhere
Standing alone on downtown Beaufort’s Hancock Street since the Tailbird house burned down in 1907, Beaufort’s ‘stairs to nowhere’ is always a cool sight to see. It’s just a set of steps, with nothing else attached to it.
School Buses Full of Watermelons
No…that’s not a school bus full of short school children with funny shaped heads. It’s a school bus full of watermelons. One day awhile back, someone had the brilliant idea to cut out the windows of an old school bus and fill it with watermelons. This undoubtedly made it easier for our local farmers and packing companies to haul the large heavyweight fruit. You’ll see them all over the roads in Beaufort SC & the sea islands today, and you’ll just smile when you do.
Port Royal's Traveling Buoy
Back in 1970, a buoy broke from its mooring in Port Royal Sound and then traveled, solo, 6,000 miles to Scotland. One year and one day later it was observed off the coast of Scotland and towed by a British ship to port. Originally used as a navigational aid in Port Royal Sound, the buoy was returned to Charleston in late 1973 at a cost of $92. The buoy was then returned to Port Royal by the Port Royal Clay Company, where it sits today in a park with a plaque remembering its long journey.
Meandering through the historic streets of downtown’s Point Neighborhood, you’ll come across this sign attached to a branch of a live oak tree. It speaks for itself. We love our history and our grand oaks so much here in Beaufort SC, we don’t usually cut them or trim them for any reason. So, if your vehicle is higher than 10 feet tall….you’ll just have to find another route to travel. Yep….that’s quirky Beaufort SC. (see cover photo)
In downtown Beaufort just off of Bay Street you’ll find two alley ways lined with palmetto trees. Both, presumably, were designed and planted to lead you to the picturesque downtown Beaufort waterfront and Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. One is located opposite of Scott Street near the eastern end, and the other is located opposite of West Street, called West Street Extension.
Avenue of Oaks
The Avenue of Oaks is located at Coffin Point Plantation on St. Helena Island and could be considered the most beautiful dirt roads in all of the Lowcountry’s sea islands. Traveling along the road under a canopy of live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss is a real treat when exploring Beaufort SC.
The Beaufort area is home to many historic forts and buildings that were made of tabby concrete hundreds of years ago and Beaufort County is home the highest concentration of tabby in the United States. Tabby was introduced by the Spanish in the seventeenth century as a low-cost and accessible building material and is made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells. It was used by early Spanish settlers, then by English colonists primarily in coastal South Carolina and Georgia. And you can still see it today all around downtown Beaufort.
The Hunting Island 'Boneyard'
You’ll find the quirky side of Beaufort SC at Hunting Island, too. With Hunting Island being a barrier island, erosion has taken a toll on the beach for a very long time. This erosion with the intrusion of saltwater has cut into the maritime forest on the island bringing down trees and creating a ‘graveyard’ of sorts. Located at the south end of the island, the boneyard is a stretch of beach that will have you meandering through and around fallen pine, oak and palmetto trees, many with their roots exposed creating a sad, almost gothic scene.
Cut-outs Along the Woods Memorial Bridge
The Woods Memorial Bridge in downtown Beaufort is more than just a bridge. It’s a work of art and is easily the city’s most notable landmark. In the spirit of our iconic state flag and symbol, these palmetto & crescent cutouts line the bridge every few yards and you can peer through them, or line up for the perfect photograph, as local Jeremy Bland did a few years back.
You’ll occasionally see a hollowed out tree that has been filled with bricks or concrete, like this one on the grounds of the Old Sheldon Church ruins. Folks think that the tree grew around the bricks, but it was a practice in the old days to fill big holes in trees with bricks or concrete to help support the tree. This was all done by hand, and is not practiced any longer.