Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail

The Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail connected the South Carolina colonial town of Charleston with the British military's colonial Fort Charlotte on the Savannah River in what is now McCormick County, South Carolina. Charleston was the largest European settlement, the capital, on the King's Highway, and the start of several other trails. Fort Charlotte was built 1765-1767 to help protect European settlers near Long Cane Creek from Creek Indian raids. Fort Charlotte was near the place where the Middle Creek Trading Path crossed the Savannah River into South Carolina. Several other trails also radiated out from this fort. The Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail was opened to European settlers about 1765. It began in Charleston County, South Carolina and ended in McCormick County, South Carolina. The length of the trail was about 105 miles (169 km).[1]

Historical Background

The British military constructed Fort Charlotte between 1765 and 1767 to help protect local colonists from hostile Indians. The fort was then turned over to South Carolina. The Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail probably followed older Indian trails. Fort Charlotte was built at or became the nexus of several trails along the Savannah River in South Carolina and Georgia.

As roads developed in America settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.

Fort Charlotte played a role in the American Revolution. The South Carolina colonial government used the fort as an arsenal. The first Revolutionary War action in South Carolina ocurred when Patriots seized those supplies. They also negotiated at the fort trying in vain to win the Indians to the Patriot cause.[2]


The first European colonists settled in counties along this path (north to south) as follows:[3]

Connecting trails. The Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail links to other trails at each end. The migration pathways connecting in Charleston included:

The migration routes connecting in Fort Charlotte included:

The newer Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail also crossed the much older Occaneechi Path in Aiken County. The Occaneechi Path was overlapped here by the Fall Line Road starting about 1735, and also the Great Valley Road (south fork) starting in the 1740s.

Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the old Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail start in Charleston. Follow I-26 north to the Orangeburg. Then take the Neeses Highway west to Springfield. Then take Highway 4 west to Aiken. Then follow Highway 19 northwest until it becomes Highway 25. Continue northwest along Highway 25 to where it meets Highway 378 in northern Edgefield County. Turn west onto Highway 378 to reach McCormick. Then go northwest on Highway 28 until Highway 81 forks off to the west. Follow Highway 81 winding westerly to Mt. Carmel. From Mt. Carmel take the Fort Charlotte Road 6.5 miles (10.4 km) southwest to Strom Thurmond Lake. The Old Fort Charlotte site lies under that lake.

Settlers and Records

Most of the early colonists along the trail and near Fort Charlotte were Englishmen from Charleston. Later settlers included Quakers, and eventually immigrants from the Ulster part of Ireland.

No complete list of settlers who used the Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail is known to exist. However, local and county histories along the road may reveal first pioneer settlers who were candidates to have travelled the Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail from the Charleston area. However, it is also possible that many earlier settlers used the Savannah River, or the earlier connecting trails such as the Occaneechi Path, Fall Line Road, and Great Valley Road to reach the area.

For partial lists of early settlers who may have used the Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail, see:

in McCormick County:

in Edgefield County:

in Aiken County:

in Orangeburg County:

in Dorchester County:

External Links


  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 848. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Fort Charlotte (South Carolina)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed 24 March 2011).
  3. South Carolina - The Counties, (accessed 22 March 2011).