Pier idea to reach McLeod Plantation may come back one day

McLeod Plantation

Charleston County park officials say they haven’t given up on the idea of adding a pier that would allow tour boats visiting McLeod Plantation on James Island a place to tie up.

Tom O’Rourke, executive director of the Park and Recreation Commission, said he originally had hoped to build a pier across from the popular Wappoo Cut Boat Landing where boats could go.

The idea was rejected, however, after environmental permitting agencies said it might create too much of a hazard, O’Rourke said.

“We would love to take another stab at it,” he said.

O’Rourke’s idea was to have the pier available for tours that included stops at other historic locations around Charleston Harbor, including Fort Sumter and Morris Island.

“We have a great relationship with the National Park Service,” he said of the federal agency that controls the Fort Sumter site.

Located just off Folly Road, McLeod Plantation was opened as a 37-acre Charleston County park in the spring. It features a look back in time to what life was like on an active 19th century sea island plantation. Among its offerings are a main house, riverfront access and its iconic row of former slave cabins.

During the Civil War, the plantation and grounds were used as a headquarters for both Union and Confederate troops before becoming a Freedman’s Bureau site and eventually a truck farm in the 20th century.

A pier would add to the story since water trade and movement of goods was once an important mode of transportation for James Island.

The parks commission earlier spent about $8.4 million to acquire the property, stabilize and restore many of its historic buildings and build two new structures, including a visitor center, parking areas and an events pavilion near the Wappoo Cut.

O’Rourke said there is several hundred feet available along the waterway on the James Island side of the Burnet Maybank Bridge at Wappoo Creek for the pier idea to take shape.

Because the park has only been open for a few months, O’Rourke said he’d like to see the site become more established before broaching the idea of a pier again. It would probably be several years down the road, he said.