by Nancy Hadley
At the end of Fort Johnson Road lies a treasure part history, part nature, and part science. The Fort Johnson Marine Center houses the Marine Division of SC Department of Natural Resources. The complex also is home to the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Lab and several federal research facilities.
The buildings on site
If you own a boat, you probably have been to the DNR boat titling office. But did you continue down the road and see the historic Marshlands House, on the National Register, and the revolutionary-era powder magazine (be sure to check out the inscription over the door – it always gives me goose bumps). There is a monument to the firing on Fort Sumter, the event that led to the beginning of the Civil War. And the best view of Charleston Harbor you can find.
The one story stucco building with arches is the Marine Resources Research Institute. It is open to the public weekdays from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. It has wonderful exhibits about South Carolina’s Marine Resources and the efforts of DNR scientists to study and manage these resources. There are displays of inshore and offshore fish, a coral-reef aquarium, and tanks with large broodstock fish which will produce fingerlings to restock our rivers.
Take a drive for the history and views
In the boatslip you may see three research vessels, unless they are out at sea, studying offshore artificial reefs, ocean currents, or migratory fish. The science is exciting, the view is breathtaking and the history is – well – historic. Take a drive to the end of Fort Johnson Road some weekday and check out this hidden gem.
Nancy Hadley is a marine biologist with the SC Department of Natural Resources where she heads up the Shellfish Management Program.