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Lumbering On Fripp Island

This Article was written By Page Miller

Lumbering On Fripp Island

Fripp Island real estate

John Lee

In 1937, William Dorman, sold Fripp for 15,000 and made a handsome profit, having purchase it just four years earlier, for $4500. The purchasers, the company of our RL McLeod and sons, were from Robeson County, North Carolina. Their sizeable lumbering business included extensive holdings, of rich timberland in South Carolina as well as two sawmills at Ravenel and Rantowles, two small towns located on the outskirts of Charleston on the railroad line between Charleston and Savannah.

A year after purchase, RL McLeod and Sons established three sawmills on Fripp, one near the Marina, one on the south and of the island and third midway between the other two. Their interest was in Fripp’s longleaf yellow pine trees. The company built a makeshift timber loading dock where barges could tied up to load the logs. Some of the large yellow pine pilings from the old loading docks can still be seen under the Marina boathouse. Yellow pine was use at the time because it was just as effective as treated wood for discouraging the teredo worms that ate away at most wood submerge in the water. McLeod and Sons begin by cutting the tall Pines on the south and along the island perimeter. However, soon after they began the operation lumber prices fell sharply. They ceased operation hoping for better prices, which failed to materialize.

The isolation of Fripp was further reduced when the works progress administration, which had been established during the depression to provide work for the unemployed, build bridges across both the harbor River and the Johnson Creek. A plaque on the lengthy draw bridge connects St. Helena and harbor islands. Note the date as 1939, the president as Franklin D Roosevelt and the project as the St. Helena hunting Island bridges. It was the depression era project of building bridges to expand Highway 21 to the new hunting Island State Park. That set the stage for the development of Fripp Island as a resort.

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