The bustling ports of Beaufort and Charleston, as well as the proximity of Savannah, prompted the construction of the original Hunting Island Light in 1859. The Confederates burned it down in 1862 during the Civil War but a new one was built in 1875. Before the light was deactivated in 1933, its light could be seen 17 miles away. A decorative light was installed in 1994 but it is not used for navigation as it does not shine very far. The light was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.


  • Hunting Island Light
    Hunting Island Light
  • View of the stairwell
    View of the stairwell
  • Comparison between the new lighthouse and the old lighthouse
    Comparison between the new lighthouse and the old lighthouse

As the United States economy expanded, in 1853 various merchants, planters, and owners of vessels in South Carolina petitioned the federal government for new aids to navigation and alterations in existing ones. One of their requests was the establishment of a “light-house and corresponding beacon-light in the stead of the St. Helena light-ship, on the northern end of Hunting island, to the range for the Swash channel.” There was a specific purpose for this particular lighthouse to warn ships to stay away from the island due to sandbars, strong currents, and wrecks.

As Hunting Island was situated roughly thirty-five miles from the coastal lights at Charleston to the north and on Tybee Island to the south, a major light there would help fulfill the goal of having no dark voids along the coast. Hunting Island received its name due to the island being a hunting preserve for the upper class during the 1800s and early 1900s. Animals hunted on the island included deer, waterfowl, raccoon, and other small animals.

It stands 136 feet tall and was built with cast-iron segments so that it could be moved if necessary, which did occur in 1889 when it was moved one mile east on the beach. The original location of the lighthouse is now underwater due to the constant erosion of the beach.

This lighthouse was not the last one standing, the first one was destroyed by the Confederates during the beginning of the Civil War to prevent the Union from using it as a recourse of navigation to help them out. When 1875 came along, it was fortunately rebuilt and put back into service. Now it is the only lighthouse in South Carolina open to the public.

Hunting Island , Hunting Island. January 1st 2019. Accessed October 22nd 2019. http://www.huntingisland.com/lighthouse.htm.

Penberthy, Bryan. History of the Hunting Island Lighthouse, US Lighthouses. June 23rd 2014. Accessed October 22nd 2019. https://us-lighthouses.com/hunting-island-lighthouse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunting_Island_Light http://www.friendsofhuntingisland.org/lighthouse.html#!/-1/

"Hunting Island Lighthouse." LighthouseFriends. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2017.

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina Parks. January 1st 2019. Accessed October 22nd 2019. https://southcarolinaparks.com/hunting-island/lighthouse.