Revered as a Lowcountry icon, the Morris Island Lighthouse stands at sea just off the coast of Folly Beach — once a beacon of light for sailors approaching Charleston’s shores. But can you imagine, for a moment, what it would be like if the lighthouse was no longer isolated by the Atlantic?
Recently, the grassroots preservation organization Save the Light organized this maritime treasure’s re-illumination and held a ceremony in honor of its illustrious history. Gathered on Lighthouse Inlet beach, hundreds of people looked on as a glow filled the unmistakable striped structure… culminating, of course, in a massive spotlight beaming from the lantern room.
Boats bobbed in the waters surrounding the Lighthouse, as that’s the only current means of getting close to the structure. However, that may not always be the case.
According to the Post & Courier, satellite images over the last two decades show sand pluming off of Folly Beach and almost forming a land-strait to the tip of Morris Island. If you’re familiar with the area, you know that the pluming is occurring very close to the where the lighthouse currently sits. This is all caused a unique phenomenon known as a revert eddy current, or reverse eddy flow.
The theory goes that if these plumes were steady and consistent enough, they could accumulate to the point that they would actually fill in — essentially re-establishing the stretch of beach upon which the Morris Island Lighthouse used to rest.
There are a few hitches with this hopeful theory, however, with erosion being the most notable. Because coastal erosion along Folly’s coast is so common, it means the current would have to pile enough sand via pluming to compensate for the sand lost to erosion.
That would likely take a long time. And while Save the Light chairman Al Hitchcock would love to see it happen, he is realistic, telling the Post & Courier, “I think the eddies off the jetties are going to keep working in there to keep that beach from building.”
It’s a nice thought though, huh?