From the dirt roads of St. Helena Island to the hot pavement of Parris Island, history comes alive in northern Beaufort County on the Sea Islands 100 Bike Tour. Mark your calendars for July 2 and 3 and get ready for a 100-mile bicycle tour. Cycle through the Sea Islands’ oak-lined roads and discover this region’s rich beauty and historical treasures. Thirty-year Beaufort resident Maurice Ungaro, of Sea Island Bike Tours, is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry to lead a fascinating tour of the Sea Islands.
This inaugural fundraising event for The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry is the first bicycle tour of this kind in the Lowcountry. Bicyclists will ride 50 miles a day Saturday and Sunday and visit St. Helena Island, Hunting Island, Lady’s Island, Harbor Island, Port Royal, Parris Island and Horse Island.
Riders will start the tour each day at the historic Penn Center on St. Helena’s Island. Participants can stay overnight in local hotels or camping grounds. Staff from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry will serve the riders a Lowcountry boil supper at Penn Center Saturday afternoon after the ride.
The Sea Islands 100 is not a race, it’s a ride. Cyclists of all skill levels are welcome. Riders are requested to raise $250 to ride, along with a $50 registration fee. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 2, at Penn Center (16 Penn Center Circle West, St. Helena Island, S.C.). The tour begins at 9:30 a.m. each day. The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry will provide the support and gear vehicles wagons, bike maintenance and rest stops.
Registration and sponsor forms are available by calling the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry at (843) 575-5430.
The Sea Islands 100 bicycle tour will visit the following sites during the two-day ride:
St. Helena Island
• Penn Center: Penn Center is the nation’s most historically significant educational institution for African-Americans. Built early in the Civil War, abolitionists and a coalition of churches established the school to educate freed slaves. The first classes were held in a one-room classroom. The demand for education grew rapidly and education supporters from Pennsylvania sent a prefabricated building to the Sea Islands of South Carolina. A 50-acre site on St. Helena Island became the home for that building and is still there today.
Penn Center is also base camp for the Sea Islands 100 for the ride will start and finish there Saturday and Sunday.
• Chapel of Ease: Located down Lands End Road, the tabby ruins and adjacent cemetery of the Chapel of Ease reminds residents and guests of Colonial times. Rice and cotton planters constructed chapels of ease as a place to worship because their plantations were located too far from the Beaufort churches. Historians predict the tabby wall on St. Helena Island was built between 1742 and 1747. In 1886, a forest fire destroyed most of the chapel. The ruins and nearby cemetery remain.
• Fort Fremont: This fort is located at the southwestern tip of St Helena Island. Soldiers constructed Fort Fremont in 1899 to defend Port Royal Sound during the Spanish-American war. A maritime forest hides the fortress, which is now owned by Beaufort County. Overgrown vegetation also gives the impressive structure a mystical appearance.
• Station Creek Boat Landing: Capture the beauty of the glimmering waters of the county’s marshes and deep water from this site.
• Hunting Island is a 5,000-acre semitropical barrier island at the tip of Beaufort County. It is the most visited state park in South Carolina. This island’s maritime forest and beachfront have merged, giving it a “Jurassic Park” vibe, as tree remains are scattered throughout its sandy shore. Hunting Island got its name since it served as hunting preserves in colonial times. People came to hunt deer, raccoon, waterfowl and other small game. Human occupants came to the island around 1850 when the first Hunting Island lighthouse was built.
• The 1893 Hurricane also known as the Sea Islands Hurricane was the deadliest hurricane in American history. The storm destroyed much of Hunting Island. The Hunting Island Lighthouse survived. The lighthouse still stands like a guardian over this natural habitat.
• Port Royal is a small town and sea island within Beaufort County, which includes Parris Island. Its short main street is peppered with quaint shops and restaurants, which leads past the Port where ocean-going vessels can import and exports goods from this small fishing village. The town’s beachfront, also known as “The Sands” provides a picturesque view of the water.
• Parris Island, known for its motto of, “We Make Marines,” is a more than 8,000-acre military installation, which trains all female marines, and all male marines east of the Mississippi River. Parris Island offers several historical sites within its jurisdiction while soldier create history every day with its rigorous training requirements and obligations.
• The Parris Island highlights include Horse Island, the rifle range, the Parris Island Museum, Elliot’s Beach and Page Field. Horse Island is an island before the main area of Parris Island. Horse Island’s picnic area represents the Southern beauty with its century-old oak trees draped in Spanish moss. Elliot’s Beach is used for recruit training.
• An interesting fact about the natural surroundings of Parris Island — half of its land is unusable due to its remoteness and dense vegetation. There are many smaller islands within Parris Island such as Horse Island, Gibbs Island, Doggie Island, Jericho Island and Scout Island. However, they are not known to many since most people consider the installation as one island.