A Slice of History

04 Mar 2022

Charleston County Parks selling pieces of the former Folly Beach fishing pier

By Jenny Peterson

Photos provided by Charleston County Parks & Recreation

For 25 years, the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier was a Charleston landmark—a 1,045-foot long wooden boardwalk stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean. Run by the Charleston County Parks, the pier served as a gathering place for fishermen above and a shady respite for beachgoers below.  

After a quarter century, the community said goodbye to the pier after it was discovered that marine borers—commonly known as shipworms—had eaten away at the wooden pilings causing irreversible damage. In 2020, crews removed the former pier and are currently building a new pier using hardier materials. 

While gone, the Edwin S. Fishing Pier is not forgotten. And thanks to an effort by the Charleston County Parks, pieces of the pier have been salvaged and memorialized forever, available for purchase by fans of the beloved structure.

Call it a rustic slice of history: two-inch-thick, 13-16 inch round slices made from the pilings that stood in the ocean day in and day out. Some pieces have hole patterns from the marine borers and other pieces showcase the natural beauty of the tree rings. The cost to own a piece is $75, which includes shipping.

“We are only making 5,000 of them and each one will have its own unique number and is authenticated,” said Renee Dickinson, director of marketing with the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission. “Each is branded with a stamp with a picture of the old pier on it and the dates it stood out on Folly.”

Before the pier was torn down, the Parks & Recreation Commission created a committee made up of staff members to handle how it would sell parts of the pier to the community.

“This is the first time we've ever done anything like this,” Dickinson said. “We knew people loved the pier and so many people have gotten engaged on the pier, they’ve caught their first fish on the pier, they would visit every year and meet up on the pier—we were just amazed at all of the memories that people had. And we wanted to create an opportunity for people to have a little piece.”

About six months ago, the parks department created an interest form on its website for anyone who was interested in buying a piece of the pier to sign up. Thousands signed up. 

The first 1,000 batches of the pier slices arrived in February to those who showed interest and then later purchased last year. Each subsequent batch of 1,000 will be mailed out until all 5,000 slices are gone.

“We’re going to give those who said they were interested another opportunity to purchase, and then we will open it open to the public,” Dickinson said. 

Dockmasters Construction out of Ravenel is handling the slicing, treating the wood and adding the special branding stamp on each slice. It takes about four weeks for the pieces to be ready to ship. 

“It takes a long time for the finished product to arrive because they have to dry, workers have to sand them and then seal them. It’s a long process,” Dickinson said. “We’re maintaining the integrity and keeping them looking very authentic.”

Each slice is unique and comes with a card on how to care for the treated wood. Park staffers discussed creating a Pinterest page to show ways to decorate with the pier pieces including wall and bookshelf décor or to use a coffee table tray. The only restriction is that the slices are not safe to use for eating or serving food.

“You could even turn it into a little clock that says, ‘Folly time’ or buy several of them and hang them in a pattern on the wall,” Dickinson said. 

Money from the sales benefit the Charleston County Parks Foundation, which helps deserving kids go to summer camps through camp scholarships, supports free swim lessons and goes towards funding park reforestation efforts. 

“It was hard when we were planning this to gauge what the interest level would be in buying pieces of the pier, but now that it’s come out, people are highly interested,” Dickinson said. The sale of benches salvaged from the top of the pier was equally a success.

“We knew that the Folly Beach fishing pier was a Charleston icon, not only for people that live here, but for all of the visitors that come to Folly Beach,” Dickinson said. “We knew it was beloved and it really was an iconic symbol of the Lowcountry.”

The Charleston County Parks & Recreation Commission expects to announce more opportunities to purchase pieces of the pier on its website this spring at www.ccprc.com. 

The new Folly Beach Pier is expected to open in the Spring of 2023. 

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