THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2014
Before the Cooper River Bridge (known as the Grace Memorial Bridge) was built in 1929 to join East Cooper (Mt Pleasant) and Charleston, the only way to get across was by boat. Its hard to believe that a bridge joining the two is only a recent phenomenon. That bridge later joined with the Silas N. Pearman Bridge, built in 1966. Being born in 1959 I don't remember crossing the Cooper River by boat but I do remember the Grace Memorial when it was the only bridge and had two way traffic. Grace was almost 3 miles long and privately owned when built. There was a toll to get over but in 1943 the state purchased the bridge and eliminated the toll. Grace only had 10 foot wide lanes. One going south toward Charleston and the other going north toward Mt Pleasant. As a child I can remember being frightened every time we crossed that bridge. The narrow lanes and steep approaches made it seem like we were in a roller coaster. Once the "new bridge" or Pearman was built, the Grace was changed to one way from Mt Pleasant to Charleston.
But before the bridges were built, the only way across was by boat and there were ferry services providing transport several times each day. Roads in Mt Pleasant are named after some of the ferry services like Mathis Ferry, Clements Ferry and Parkers Ferry. Passenger would board from downtown Charleston and be dropped off at the ferry stop at Patriots Point. As many as nine round trips a day crossed the river. There was also a ferry stop on Sullivans Island and a trolly that took passengers from one end of Sullivans Island to the other. Each stop on the trolly was a station. That's why we have street named after stations on Sullivans Island. Remnants of the old ferry terminal on Sullivans Island can be seen by going to the south end of the island.
In day with cars everywhere, it is hard to believe a time without a bridge connecting Charleston and Mt Pleasant. Today we now have the Arthur Ravenel Bridge that replace both the Grace and Pearman bridges. Those were the days!