In April of 1670 the first European settlers landed at Albemarle Point in Charles Towne at what is now Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site. The settlers chose this site because it was easily defensible against Spanish invasion from the water with cannons, and with the construction of a fort wall of upright logs with sharpened tips called a palisade, defensible from possibly hostile Natives and unknown wildlife on the landside. Once confident in their safety, the colonists planted experimental gardens to determine what they could successfully grow as cash crops to benefit the colony as well as the colony’s financiers, the Lord’s Proprietors of King Charles II of England. Establishing a cash crop proved elusive in the early years and the colonists began harvesting pine trees to ship to Barbados to use for firewood for the processing of sugar cane. Later in the 17th century, the colony became a thriving port city from the huge success of rice plantations.
Today, the 664-acre tract is a South Carolina State Historic Site owned and operated by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This fascinating historical treasure includes a zoo called the Animal Forest, which contains species of animals native to the lowcountry at the time of settlement, living history programs, and archaeological investigations. You will experience what life may have been like for the settlers in the 1670’s through museum exhibits, a full-scale replica of a 17th century sailing vessel named Adventure, a Common House living quarters, and interaction with costumed interpretive rangers. In the Animal Forest, it is exciting to see some of the native animals that settlers may have encountered. Some that still roam the Charleston area and some that do not. Including Bison, Elk, and Red Wolves. Archaeology and historical research has revealed how Native Americans, European Settlers, Indentured Servants, and African Slaves lived and worked to ensure the success of the Carolina colony. Prepare for an exciting lesson in the history of the origins of South Carolina when visiting the original fortified area of the settlement at Charles Towne Landing where the experimental crop garden, the Common House, Adventure, and Cannon fortifications are located. All reconstructed based on archaeological evidence as well as historical writings, letters, and maps of Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper collected in the Shaftesbury Papers.
Also on the park are walking and biking trails, an African American Cemetery, the Legare-Waring House and gardens, a visitor center, and the conference facility Founders Hall. The Legare-Waring House and Founders Hall are popular venues for destination weddings. Visit www.lowcountryparkvenues.com for more information.
The park is located on the marshes of the Ashley River at 1500 Old Towne Road, about three miles from downtown Charleston in West Ashley. Open daily from 9AM-6PM, the admission is $10 per adult, $6 for students ages 6-15, and free for children ages 5 and under. www.charlestownelanding.travel