If you find yourself in Charleston or Mount Pleasant (SC) a trip to Shem Creek is a must.
The Sewee tribe of Native Americans was first to live along this waterway’s shores and gave it the name “Shemee” (meaning unknown). Its people valued the same sheltered deep water and easy accessibility to the harbor that attracted the Englishmen who began settling on the creek in the 1670s.
Shrimping was introduced in the 1930s with Captain William C. Magwood’s trawler, Skipper. From then onward, Shem Creek was the home port for Charleston’s fleet of shrimp boats and commercial fishing vessels. For decades, the fisheries were a mainstay of the town’s economy. Dozens of working boats lined both sides of the creek—so many, they had to dock three or four abreast. Yet the scenic trawlers also unwittingly brought a new commerce to the creek: tourism. Restaurants followed, drawing patrons to tables offering enviable creekside views.
Only 20 years ago, there were some 30 resident trawlers. Today, there are less than a dozen, not all in working condition. With ongoing news of the “sinking” of this once great industry, it would appear that shrimping is on its way out. For the shrimpers still working on the creek, these are fighting words.
(credit - Suzanna Smith Miles)