Exploring Fort Moultrie, South Carolina

While I was in Charleston, South Carolina in early November attending the American Canoe Association Leadership Conference (read about my kayak adventure here) , I had time to explore Fort Moultrie located on Sullivan’s Island.

Years ago I had visited Charleston and took a tour of Fort Sumter which is historically known for the battles during the Civil War in the 1860’s.  But, I didn’t realize that Charleston port had even an older history on Sullivan’s Island- Fort Moultrie.

The Waterway Entrance to the Port of Charleston, SC

The Waterway Entrance to the Port of Charleston, SC

The day was overcast and threatening rain as I pulled into a gravel parking lot. In front of me I saw a line of canons facing the waterfront. In the distance I could see Fort Sumter isolated in the water off the coastline.

The Line of historic canons that are displayed outside the walls of Fort Moultrie

The line of historic canons that are displayed outside the walls of Fort Moultrie

This star shaped fortress was built in the 1700’s and has seen British, French and American soldiers guarding the strategic waterway leading into the port of Charleston.

Now a National Park Monument, visitors can walk the fort grounds exploring the over 200+ year history. Not all of that history is glamorous, the center of the slave trade also existed and ran through Charleston. A display of slave accounts can be viewed at the visitor center.

MG William Moultrie, Sullivan's Island, SC

MG William Moultrie, Sullivan’s Island, SC

The site also contains a couple of graves of those who died working at the Fort and the namesake of the Fort MG William Moultrie who refused to surrender the Fort in June 1776 to the British.

Looking from outside the Fort walls.

Looking from outside the Fort walls.

Inside the fort you can view the various rooms and tunnels that protected the soldiers.

I climbed the lookout tower that was built and maintained during WWII and could clearly see the shipping channel and understood instantly why this was a strategic location for the security of the Charleston Port.

The view from the fort outlook tower towards the ship channel.

The view from the fort outlook tower towards the ship channel.

The last place I explored at the fort was a tight squeeze into an underground command center.  Built during WWII to serve as a communication and command post for the US Army protection of the Eastern Coastline it feels like it is frozen in that time period.  Large steel doors open into the underground airlock facility that has several rooms with WWII period operations facilities where you can listen to the radio traffic of the off shore boats as the military monitored the activities.

I got an eerie feeling being in the facility all alone. Maybe my active imagination kicked into overdrive, I could almost feel the boredom and anxiety of the soldiers that had worked there during the war years.

After spending a couple of hours exploring the Fort and the displays at the visitor center located across the street from the fort, I was ready to see the rest of Sullivan’s Island.

Below you will find links to a few of the other places I explored and would recommend if you are planning a vacation to Charleston.

Places I explored on Sullivan’s Island, SC

  • Fort Moultrie – Part of National Park Service National Monuments of Fort Sumter. This fort provides a wonderful view of over 200+ years of South Carolina history as it relates to the defense of the Charleston Port waterway.


  • Sandpiper Gallery– A wonderful artistic gallery where I stopped in and was greeted by Kathleen Arnold who shared a wealth of knowledge about the art and the local artists on display.  This gallery has something for every taste, wood art, oils, watercolors, photography, jewelry, and more I am sure I am missing. It was a warm and inviting escape from the wind and the rain.



Have you visited Charleston, South Carolina?

I would be interested in what things you did while visiting the area, share your experiences in the comments section.  


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