On September 18th, 2020, the Morris Island Lighthouse was lit in tribute to longtime local shrimper Wayne Magwood. The beam from the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse (or Charleston Light) can be seen in the background. (photograph by Lou Vega)
The Morris Island Lighthouse in April 2023 (photograph by Jon Puckett)
Lighthouse Heritage Preserve at the east end of Folly Beach offers a great view of the lighthouse. (photograph by Andy Lassiter)
A view from the lantern room of the Morris Island Lighthouse shows the east end of Folly Beach. Due to continuing erosion, the lighthouse now sits about a half mile offshore. (photograph by Richard Beck)
During the Revolutionary War, the rudimentary light on Middle Bay Island—one of three land masses that made up what is now called Morris Island—was extinguished to prevent British warship captains from using it to aid their entry into Charleston Harbor.
General Peter Conover Hains supervised the construction of the Morris Island Lighthouse, beginning in 1873.
A 1914 image of the lighthouse shows the building where both the keeper’s and assistant keeper’s families lived. The lighthouse was automated and the house abandoned in 1938, at which time the residence was almost completely submerged.
The plans for the lighthouse were identical to the Bodie Island Lighthouse built several years prior in North Carolina.
Ester Hecker, wife of keeper William Hecker, holds her daughter, born on the island in October 1929 during a fierce storm.
Guests visiting the Sheltering Arms orphanage ride the children’s pull cart on the beach.
Lightkeeper Ed Meyer’s Ford Model T, which he moved to Morris Island in 1934 by precariously resting it atop three rowboats.
The Davis and Hecker families on the beach at Morris Island, circa 1935.
Schoolteacher Elma Bradham traveled by boat to Morris Island every Monday, living with the lightkeepers’ families and teaching the children. On Friday, she returned home to John’s Island.
W.A. Davis (left) and Captain William Hecker were the last two lightkeepers to serve on Morris Island. They left with their families in 1938 upon evacuation orders.
German immigrant Captain John Wieking—the longest serving lightkeeper with 23 years of service—with his wife, Angiline, and their children
The Morris Island Life-Saving Station was built in 1885 to aid ships in distress. It later served as the Sheltering Arms orphanage.
The current structure, circa 2007.
A look inside the cofferdam (photograph by Richard Beck)
The Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse.
The second lighthouse on Morris Island, built in 1801.
A map depicts the location of Fort Wagner, a heavily fortified Confederate encampment that—despite several bloody attempts—Union troops were never able to capture.
After Confederate forces abandoned Fort Wagner, Union troops took over.
Union troops constructed temporary housing at Fort Wagner.
The Beacon House was nearly destroyed during the Battle of Fort Wagner
A Harper’s Weekly engraving, published in 1863, shows troop locations during the siege of Fort Wagner by, among others, the Massachusetts 54th Infantry.
The Massachusetts 54th Infantry.
Excavation work being done in 2007 to stabilize the Morris Island Lighthouse.
Skeletal remains were unearthed at the Morris Island Lighthouse during the 2007 excavation work.
By 1938, high tides had eroded the lighthouse portion of the island to the point that it had to be evacuated.
Over the centuries, Mother Nature has exacted her toll on Morris Island, as numerous storms and the relentless action of the tides have eroded the slip of land. (photograph by Jon Puckett)