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College of Arts & Sciences
Maritime Research Division


Cooper River Heritage Trail

The Cooper River Heritage Trail is an underwater diving trail consisting of six sites that range from a Revolutionary War British gunboat to a work barge.

The Cooper River Heritage Trail features six underwater archaeological sites for divers to explore. These sites consist of shipwrecks, two landings, and a chine-log barge. Sites date from the 18th to the late 19th/early 20th century. Approximately 2 1/2 miles long, divers can compete a dive on each site in a day. The Division obtained a National Recreational Trails Program grant from the US Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administation administered through the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. Division staff, Berkeley County government, local businesses, and many volunteers helped with establishing the trail.  Underwater moorings with informational placards, guidelines, and attached buoys mark each site.  The buoys also function as a tie-off for vessels so as not to drop anchor on sites and destroy archaeological intergrity.* Since the completion of the trail in 1998, the trail has been augmented with several historic anchors from around the state as well as the rudder assembly of the Mepkin Wreck.

*Note that buoys and guidelines may not be present on site due to maintenance issues. Please be aware of where you anchor to avoid damaging sites.

Photo Gallery

Cooper River Heritage Trail Information Slates (pdf)

Related Information

2004. Vezeau, Susan Lynn. "The Mepkin Abby Shipwreck: Diving Into Mepkin Plantation's Past." Masters Thesis. Texas A&M University.

2000. Harris, Lynn. "Mepkin Wreck Project Continues: Is Vessel Henry Laurens' Plantation Boat Baker?" Legacy. Vol. 5, No. 2. December. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 10-12.

1999. Harris, Lynn. "The Pimlico Shipwreck Project (Part I)." Legacy. Vol. 4, Nos. 1-3. December. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. p. 28.

1998. Harris, Lynn. "South Carolina's First Underwater Trail Is Open!" Legacy. Vol. 3, No. 3. December. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 1, 16-17.

1998. Harris, Lynn. "Cooper River Underwater Heritage Trail." Legacy. Vol. 3, No. 2. July. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. p. 27.

1997. Ruddy, Drew. "The Mepkin Abby Wreck." Legacy. Vol. 2, No. 3. December. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 26-27.

1996. Barr, William B. "Strawberry Ferry (38BK1723) and Childsbury Towne (38BK1750): A Socio-Economic Enterprise on the West Branch of the Cooper River, St. John's Parish, Berkley County, South Carolina." Research Manuscript Series No. 224. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina.

1993. Harris, Lynn, Moss, Jimmy, and Naylor, Carl. "The Cooper River Survey: An Underwater Reconnaissance of the West Branch." Research Manuscript Series No. 218. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina.