Crossing the rivers of the state : the role of the ferry in the development of South Carolina, circa 1680-1920s /

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Salo, Edward
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Middle Tennessee State University
Often overlooked by historians and archaeologists, ferries played an important part in the transportation network that developed during the colonial period and continued to operate until the twentieth century. Ferries in South Carolina, for instance, were the local connection to the larger Atlantic world network within which South Carolina operated and developed. Without ferries, South Carolina would not have developed as an economic partner in the Atlantic world network. Ferries served as the connection between maritime and inland culture.
This dissertation provides a historical context for a better interpretation of ferries by historians, whether in academic publications, markers, museum exhibits, or other public history tools. It also provides a framework for future archaeological and historical studies, and the enhanced preservation and management of ferries in the Lowcountry.
In the Lowcountry, ferries were not merely a single-function transportation method; they represented a duality of adaption of ideas and technology, but at the same time, ferries stayed relatively unchanged during their history. They were important economical centers that began as another moneymaking pursuit of the planter elite. Ferries changed from small canoes adapted from Native Americans to European-influenced flatboats to the steamboats operated by the Mount Pleasant Ferry Company. By the end of the nineteenth century, large corporations operated several important ferries as the railroads consolidated their control of the transportation network across the state.
Ferries played an important role in the development of South Carolina; however, until recently, preservationists have all but ignored ferries in the preparation of National Register nominations and state historic markers, two indicators of the perceived importance of a historical resource in South Carolina. Compared to those in neighboring states, South Carolina's preservation community has been slow to identify ferries and ferry-related resources in the state. Many important ferry sites in South Carolina do not have a historical marker to illustrate their importance. Many plantations that included ferries in their operations do not have the landings listed in their National Register nominations.
However, South Carolinians have remembered historic ferries and their contributions to the state's transportation history in other ways, including the naming of roads and businesses after historic ferries.