A Walking Tour of Georgetown, South Carolinaby Doug Gelbert
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There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour from walkthetown.com is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets. Georgetown was South Carolina’s third city, following Charleston and Beaufort. The first permanent settlers to the area were the English who were actively involved in the Indian trade. The settlement was founded in 1729 and declared an official port of entry in 1732. This meant that all foreign imports and exports no longer had to pass through Charleston and the area’s merchants and planters could deal directly with all ports. Georgetown quickly flourished on the back of its indigo and rice crops. In the early days indigo, used in dyes, was the big money crop but it was not grown after the Revolutionary War. Rice, which had been grown in the area as far back as 1690, picked up the slack. By the 1840s more rice moved across Georgetown’s docks than any seaport in the world. Every other grain of rice consumed in the United States was the local variety called Carolina Gold.” The Civil War changed the whole way of life for this region. The reconstruction period that followed was a social, political and economic upheaval. The rice crops following the war were failures, and rice could no longer support the economy of Georgetown. The combination of the disruption of the work patterns, competition from Southwestern rice growers, and several devastating hurricanes spelled the end of the once fabulous rice culture by the dawn of the twentieth century. Into the economic void stepped the region’s virgin forests that had once shielded Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox of Revolutionary War fame, in his skirmishes against the British. By 1905 there were five lumber companies in Georgetown producing over 300,000 tons of milled lumber. The Atlantic Coast Lumber Company was incorporated in 1903 and within a decade was the largest lumber producing plant on the East Coast. However, the company could not survive the Depression and Georgetown entered a period of immense economic decline. In recent years the paper industry and specialty steel and commercial fishing and, of course, tourism, have assumed the reins of Georgetown’s economic engine. Most of the downtown grid, laid out by Elisha Screven when he founded the town in 1729, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Along the streets are scores of structures that reach back to the 1700s and early 1800s and our walking tour to investigate them will begin at one of the grandest, on a conspicuous bluff overlooking the languid Sampit River...
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