You’ve likely seen the waggish bumper sticker declaring “Mountain people are wise; beach people are happy.” Just where and when it came from I have no idea, but it echoes a bit of received wisdom that I believe to be no wisdom at all. Sure, the beach is the backdrop for summertime fun — toes in the sand and carefree splashing in the waves. But for those willing to look beyond the beach blankets, its an environment just as stirring, just as inviting of sagacious introspection as any craggy peak or verdant mountain glade.
One local church located close to the sea has been known to put out a sign reading “LAST ANGLICAN CHURCH UNTIL MOROCCO”; it’s there to give the passerby a chuckle, of course, but it’s tied to a thought many of us have, staring out at the ocean ... Looking out from our local beaches, there is nothing between us and the other side of the world except 4,000 miles of salt air and sea spray. Somewhere far away are the shores of Western Europe, of Portugal and sunny Spain, the coast of North Africa … all just one little turn of the mind’s rudder away from us as we walk a Lowcountry beach.
Then there’s the ocean itself, this massive contiguous depth that covers over 70 percent of our planet. Great heaving tides connect it (and us) to the moon itself, nearly 240,000 miles away. Under the waves rests … well exactly what all we don’t know? It teems with life, even in its briny darkness. Creatures unseen and undiscovered surely still are swimming in that great blue otherness.
And, like those tides, the sea is a reminder of our transience, of just how short and fragile our existence on this planet truly is. To wit: One spring day in 2013, on the eastern coast of England at a place called Happisburgh, a Welsh professor and his colleague from the British Museum noticed some odd patterns in the silt while walking the beach. Recent storms had torn away a layer of sand and revealed these marks. Further investigation showed them to be the footprints of early hominids … some 800,000 years old.
Can you imagine? Footprints in the sand that were nearly a million years old? And as the sea giveth, it taketh away; once exposed to tides and rains, the impossibly old prints were gone within two weeks.
We have our own mysteries here on the Carolina coast; some are supernatural, like tales of the Gray Man, but many more are part of history, well documented if too-often forgotten. One such story is that of Edingsville. Before the outbreak of war in 1861, Edingsville was the favored summer retreat for many Edisto families. Since the 1820s, local planters spent their summers there in well-appointed two-story homes, sitting on wide porches and soaking in the sea breezes.
At war’s end, the toll of unchecked erosion and neglect were apparent; only 40 or so of Edingsville’s homes, once 60 in number, remained standing. Folks returned to the resort community, but it would never recover its pre-war vitality. Some saw the “handwriting on the wall” and left early of their own accord. After the devastation of the hurricane of 1885, even the remaining families departed. Regular erosion continued; finally the murderous Sea Island Hurricane of 1893 finished the job of sinking the remnants of the once-beloved resort community under the waves of the Atlantic.
Little remains of Edingsville today, though some impressive archeological work was done along the nearby modern beachfront after Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016; most intriguing, researchers found remains of original causeway that once connected Edingsville back to the mainland.
Although Edingsville is long gone, its eponymous beach is still there. Connections to the vanished community can be found in the street names of Jeremy Cay, a handsome planned development just east of Edisto — names like “Lost Village Trail” and “Planters Retreat” speak to the life once just a few hundred yards away.
What still remains has the power to enthrall, too. One example: Number One Inlet Point Road, currently on offer by Jim Kempson of Carolina One Real Estate, echoes with the grandeur of the pre-war resort town once adjacent. Sitting on a nearly two-acre lot on the end of a peninsula overlooking Scott Creek, the home is effectively surrounded by water (though it sits high enough that annual flood insurance is a very financially reasonable affair). Views are accordingly majestic, sure to entice even the John Denver-est mountain lover into being a “beach person.”
At more than 3,500 square feet, there is space aplenty. The three bedroom and three-and-half baths include dual master suites, perfect for guests. Luxurious features abound — a handsome woodburning fireplace, oak flooring, a wet bar, an elevator — welcome socializing throughout the open plan home. Decks and porches on both floors open up the outside for entertaining and daily living alike. Smart structural features, like cement plank siding and a new standing seam metal roof offer peace-of-mind in storm season; its welcoming south-facing orientation offers sunlight (and passive solar gains) throughout the year.
Out of doors, homeowners will find much to love in the deep-water dock — well sheltered on the creek but mere yards to the ocean — and the many lovely oaks and palmettos dotting the property. The remote location and community gates make the nearby beach near-private, perfect for exploring, shell-hunting, cogitating upon … or just simple old-fashioned playing in the sand and splashing in the waves.