Whether you have a camera bag filled with the latest photography gear or simply enjoy snapping photos with your iPhone, photography buffs will love exploring Dorchester County. Capture historic buildings, picturesque parks, church ruins and tiny towns bursting with character and charm.
Plan a photography tour of Dorchester County, taking your time to learn about the authentic character of South Carolina and all that makes this state special. These towns, which make up some of the quaintest villages in South Carolina, are surprisingly close to busy Interstate 95 and easily accessible.
Start with the deep religious history found in some amazingly preserved architecture and even in the ruins of colonial historic sites.
Indian Fields Methodist Camp Ground is a rustic and simple campground still in use today. Located in St. George, the camp was built in 1848 with 99 woods cabins that form a circle around a large wooden pavilion and preaching area. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 30, 1973.
Appleby Church is a one-story wooden Methodist church built sometime between 1840 and 1850. The church stands today much as it did in the mid-1800s and the two rows of pews are thought to be the originals. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Feb. 14, 1978. The church is located near St. George.
The Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site in Summerville dates back to the 17th century. The trading town of Dorchester flourished along the Ashley River from 1697 until just before the Revolutionary War when the town was abandoned. Today the site is a state park with carefully preserved archaeological remains showcasing the early history of colonial South Carolina. Be sure to see the remains of the brick bell tower of St. George’s Anglican Church.
Cummings Chapel in Ridgeville is everything you’d imagine a little country church to be. Founded in 1875, it sits next to a small cemetery. The church has been used off and on over the years.
Plan an outdoor adventure to photograph images of swamps, rivers and trails that take visitors on a journey of discovery to some of South Carolina’s most beautiful natural areas.
The Edisto River is one of the longest free-flowing blackwater rivers in the world. A wonderful way to photograph the highlights is along the Edisto River Canoe & Kayak Trail, a 62-mile section in the heart of the river. About halfway through the trail, the river makes a sharp south turn near its confluence with Four Holes Swamp and passes Givhans Ferry State Park. The trail officially ends at Lowndes Landing, but the river keeps on flowing into Charleston County.
Another beautiful waterway is the Ashley River, which was key in those early days of travel and trade in South Carolina. The river has several blueway trails and is home to an array of wildlife, including endangered sturgeon, striped bass and the rare swallow-tailed kite. The Ashley River also flows past Middleton Place, a plantation first settled in the late 17th century. Today it is a major tourist attraction and National Historic Landmark. The property has remained under the same family stewardship for more than 320 years.
Truly a photographer’s dream, the Audubon’s Francis Beidler Forest is located in Harleyville. This 18,000-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary offers a spectacular look at the beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Francis Beidler is the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp forest with thousand-year-old trees, all sorts of wildlife and a blackwater swamp – all of which can be seen from the 1.75-mile boardwalk.
Photography buffs who enjoy creating images of abandoned homes and barns will love traveling between these slow-paced, largely agricultural communities.
The county seat of Dorchester is St. George, a small town of some 2,000 people. Despite its small size, this town is big on history. The town itself is located along Wire Road, a historic route through rural South Carolina. It’s named for the telegraph lines that were strung in the mid-1800s.
Near St. George is the historic Koger-Murray-Carroll House. Dating back to 1775, this property has changed hands numerous times over the years. Once an important stagecoach stop between inland settlements and Charleston, this structure is reportedly the oldest in the county.
Head to the heart of St. George to see the Klauber Building. Built in 1894, it was first a mercantile serving a community that was busy with railroad commerce. Today, the building is home to a visitor center. A town museum sits nearby in the historic courthouse. Just down the street is the Lourie Theatre, built in the 1920s to show silent movies. In the early 1980s, the theatre closed, and the building began to deteriorate. Several years later, a group of dedicated community members banded together to restore the theatre – now a vibrant performing arts center for the town.
It pays to detour off Interstate 26 and drive the backroads of Dorchester County to capture images of some of South Carolina’s most beautiful natural spaces, small towns and historic buildings.
To find out more about how to explore the beauty of the Lowcountry, visit www.villagesofdorchestersc.com.