Rich in natural, cultural and historical resources, Caw Caw Interpretive Center was once part of several rice plantations and home to enslaved Africans who applied their technology and skills to create and cultivate a series of rice fields out of prehistoric cypress swamps. In addition to former 18th and 19th century rice fields, visitors can experience an understory of thousands of naturalized tea plants from an early 20th century tea farm. Caw Caw Interpretive Center (CCIC) is also the only formally documented site of the 1739 Stono Rebellion. The site offers educational exhibits, interpretive displays, and natural and cultural history programs for all ages.
Other features at CCIC include over six miles of trails, boardwalks, and bridges with exhibits along the way. This site is an exceptional wildlife preserve and is home to waterfowl, otters, deer, American Alligators and many other inhabitants. Over 250 species of birds have been seen on property, making it a hotspot to see prothonotary warblers flash brilliant yellow in the cypress swamp during spring and summer months. Summer also offers the chance to see the colorful painted bunting or the bright blue indigo bunting along the forest edges. Bird walks take place each Wednesday and Saturday morning, led by expert birders.
Eight different self-guided trails, bridges, and boardwalks wind throughout the property, each one unique. Visitors will see a variety of landscapes including mixed forest, marshes, forested wetlands, and tidal marshes, and will find helpful interpretive kiosks and signs along the way.
The majority of the landscape at CCIC looks like it does because of the work of hundreds of enslaved Africans who cut ancient trees, unearthed knotted tangles of Cypress roots, and dug miles of canals still visible today. They planted, weeded and harvested rice in the “Lowcountry” heat and humidity, sharing the rice fields with venomous snakes and other dangers. Despite this, they endured and became the core of a rich and thriving culture called Gullah Geechee that is integral to the arts, language, cuisine, and other Lowcountry traditions of today. In 2015, the park was designated as a partner site for the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission. The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission was created to recognize the important contributions made to American culture and history by African Americans who settled in the coastal counties of the region.
CCIC has something for everyone in the family, and programs can be arranged for schools, family reunions, scouts and other groups. CCIC is part of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Pets and bicycles are not permitted at the property to preserve and protect the site’s natural resources.
For more information on Caw Caw Interpretive Center, visit CharlestonCountyParks.com, call 843-795-4386 or download the Charleston County Parks mobile app.