The Golden Year

February 2013

Maritime Museum showcases Georgetown in 1905



The nostalgic lilt of 1900s-era ragtime piano music, along with festive red, white and blue bunting, greets visitors as they step through the door at the South Carolina Maritime Museum on Front Street in Georgetown. Entering this door means stepping back to 1905, the year the Port of Georgetown enjoyed the best and busiest year of its nearly 300-year history as the state’s second largest seaport.

The newest exhibit, which will run through spring, is called 1905, Georgetown’s Golden Year. Susan Sanders, the museum director, likes to tell the story of Georgetown’s booming time, and she resonates with the excitement that its 1905 merchants, visitors and residents all seemed to enjoy.
“During those heavy lumber shipping days, from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, 1905 was the pinnacle,” said Sanders. “We shipped more tonnage out of this port than any other port on the East Coast that year. The lumber came from about a 150-mile radius including Georgetown and Horry counties.”

The exhibit is filled with photos of these 108-year-old celebrations and the ships that made them possible—the four-mast schooner, the City of Georgetown, and steamships including the Katahdin, the Aragon and the Richmond—but it’s the town, its people and the celebrations that take center stage.

Museum board member and historian Mac McAlister and his wife, Mary, supplied many of the photos and were instrumental in the look of the exhibit.

The opening of the museum was a hard-won battle going back some 18 years. “We put on the Wooden Boat Show each year as a fundraiser,” said Sanders, “and opened our doors in December 2011.” Sanders' love of history and Georgetown is evident, and this new exhibit gives her hope of what may be again in Georgetown’s future.

“We’ve got dredging issues, so our seaport is not today what it could and should be,” said Sanders. “I think what’s so remarkable, in light of our difficult economy now, is how refreshing it is to see how happy and positive everyone seemed to be in 1905.  It was a great year for Georgetown.”

1905, Georgetown’s Golden Year
South Carolina Maritime Museum
729 Front Street
Georgetown, SC 29440
(843) 520-0111
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.