Motorists on the tree-shrouded portion of the Old Georgetown Highway share the road with the memory of those historic figures who traveled on it. Those include President George Washington, Gen. Francis Marion and Gen. William Moultrie, and Thomas Lynch Jr. and Edward Rutledge, who both signed the Declaration of Indpendence.
They share the narrow, unpaved road with the memory of the Sewee Indians who traveled it to trade.
And they share it with the animals and birds (some of them endangered now) that inhabit the forest alongside, just as they did hundreds of years ago.
It is an extraordinary 6.6-mile stretch of road that escaped being paved over with most of the rest of the highway in the 1920s. The people of McClellanville wanted the route shifted so they could more readily use it to transport crops and seafood to market.
Today, it is a treasure, both environmentally and historically, and very likely will be recognized as a National Historic Roadway by the National Register of Historic Places.
So it should be.
As such, it would be preserved — no tar or gravel, no making it wider or lining it with housing developments, no ditching or power lines, nothing to chase away the historic memories.
Bud Hill, director of the Village Museum in nearby McClellanville, is optimistic that the application will be approved. It comes with the endorsement of people whose property abuts the road, and with the distinction of being one of the last and longest continuously unpaved public portions of the 1,300-mile pre-Revolutionary road that connected Charleston to Boston.
Mr. Hill said that land around the Old Georgetown Highway already has been protected with conservation easements by property owners themselves, including the National Forest Service and White Oak Forestry, a subsidiary of Evening Post Industries.
The Village Museum bought 100 acres across from the St. James Parish Episcopal Church (built in 1768) for conservation and turned it over to the committee that maintains the historic church.
The highway is also near Hampton Plantation, the home of longtime S.C. Poet Laureate Archibald Rutledge, which is operated by the state as a park.
This simple dirt road that stretches from the South Santee River to Tibwin Road recalls the different pace of travel of an earlier time. It speaks quietly but eloquently of a history that stretches from pre-Revolutionary times to the present.
It truly is a National Historic Roadway.
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