Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Capturing a Fort

Visitors (and new residents) often gaze at the harbor from Waterfront Park or from the Battery and wonder about the small overgrown fort, seemingly a stone's throw away, between the city and Patriots Point. Hopefully, the coverage of it in today's paper will solve the mystery for those folks. The rest of us know it's Castle Pinckney, an early 19th century fort named for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution who hailed from our neck of the woods. (He was also a hero of the Revolutionary War, but don't get me started on that topic, as I've already "written the book" on it.) Anyway, back to the fort, it was built as a defense of the harbor but never saw any military action other than being taken over by Confederate troops at the begining of the Civil War - even before they took over Ft. Sumter. But to stay on track, today the focus is on capturing the fort - in pictures. The School of the Building Arts is diligently working with the State Ports Authority (who owns it) and the National Park Service to clear it of brush so that experts (and students) can make drawings and notes on its condition. For most of my life, the island (more like a sandbar) where the fort is located was a place to visit if you had your own boat (or a friend's) and do a little exploring (or sunbathing). I don't know why it was made off limits to boaters in recent years, but I suspect it has to do with the SPA assuming ownership and the Homeland Security issues the SPA has in place. I have heard of no plans to make this a tourist attraction, so I'm assuming that the ongoing studies there are purely to gather historical data. Even though I fondly remember the days when it was a beachcomber's getaway, let's hope from here on it is allowed to remain secluded and untouched by humans. Not every old fort needs to become an attraction. But it is also doubtful that boaters will ever be allowed to set foot there again, as in my youth, but that might not be a bad thing. After all, look what has happened to Morris Island. (However, Morris Island may soon be the last place anyone around here can hit the beach without having to pay to park. I'll save that diatribe for another day.)

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