The Well-Preserved Beauty of Edisto Island

Dear Reader:

A book sure can be a life-saver, can’t it…when it arrives at just the perfect time! This happened last week. Brooke told me about a book some friends gave her…a fictional story set on Edisto Island in the mid- 1980’s. She thoroughly enjoyed it and thought I would too. On the way home from Pawleys she told me she would try to get it off to me to read while waiting on the results of the CT Chest scans.


Remember that those were the long three rainy, dreary days between last Monday and last Thursday? When the book/package arrived Wednesday afternoon I was so excited! I desperately needed a good book to become completely immersed in and get my mind off the impending test results the next morning. This book did the job!!! 🙂

I called Brooke to thank her and tell her it had come …there was  silence on the phone…”Today…you said it came today…Boo?” I just got it in the mail late yesterday afternoon and was told hopefully it would arrive Thursday…unbelievable…it was surely meant to be.

(And it was… since I couldn’t sleep Wednesday night but instead stayed up a good portion of it happily reading away as the rain fell in torrents.)

One of my personal reasons for enjoying this book comes from the author’s thorough island history… she took time to research  while writing the story. For example, in one conversation between two of the main characters…one life-long resident of the island asks the newcomer (Claire)….

“Do you know why Edisto still has those lovely big oaks draped with Spanish moss all along the highway ?” 

Claire responds: “I never really thought about it. Is there a reason?”

“There is indeed and it was because of a woman. In the early 1900’s, one of the Wilkerson girls (Jean) was engaged to the engineer building the new highway into the island. She told him flat out if he cut down the live oaks along the highway as initially intended, that she wouldn’t marry him. She held fast to her stand, too, so he changed his plans and kept the trees.”

( She grinned…”You think of that plucky woman every time you drive in and out of Edisto from now on. A strong, determined woman can do about anything she wants to if she sets her mind to it.”)

And I am going to do just that from now on-remember the “plucky woman” who saved the beautiful tree-line highway….What makes Edisto so unique and why the Ya’s and so many other residents and tourists love this island is because Highway 174 leading into Edisto is lined with live oaks with Spanish moss all along the highway.

When you go to other barrier islands around Charleston… sadly trees have been destroyed and replaced by palm trees or some other designated tree placed precisely so many feet apart….very structured and detailed…but a loss of natural charm at the same time.

The other wonderful difference between Edisto and the other more commercialized islands is that no hotels are allowed on the island or big chain restaurants, stores, amusement parks or sky scrapers of any kind…it has remained basically an island of beach homes for rent or permanent residence. A quiet family beach …one of the last of its kind along the South Carolina coast.

The real joy of going to Edisto is the trip there… over the gorgeous old Dawhoo Bridge (William McKinley)  with miles and miles of beautiful marshes, historic preservations to visit like Botany Bay and Steamboat Landing…everything is kept with its natural beauty in tact.


And of course…Edisto Island will always be special to my family since Cypress Trees was the location for John and Mandy’s wedding…May 3, 2008! Absolutely beautiful!

So until tomorrow…Let us never take natural beauty for granted. In many cases dedicated citizens have risen with voices intact to preserve their home, their island, and their way of life worth fighting for…such is the “grit and determination”  of Edisto Island.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


On a chatty note…I was talking to Brooke about Edisto and the story of the  woman who ‘saved the live oaks and Spanish moss‘ so Highway 174 is still lined with this beautiful canopy of fanned branches covered in beautiful seasonal foliage .

There was a pause in the conversation…and Brooke said…”I agree during daylight hours Boo…but I had to return to the island late one night (pre-cataract surgeries) and it was as scary an experience as Icabod Crane’s headless horseman chase at the end of the Disney movie!”

“Every oak tree seemed to be jumping out in  front of me around each bend in the road with the Spanish moss looking like fingers dragging me closer and closer  to the next tree. It was terrifying… I have never again driven  to the island once darkness descends  and I never will…that experience left me traumatized!



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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