Shem Creek History

Safe Haven for Travelers

The creek always provided safe haven for travelers. Light was added in 1905 when the Shem Creek Beacon was erected. This red three-pile-structure was built on the east side of the entrance to Shem Creek, and the beacon was lighted on August 12, 1905. In a book titled The Rudder (1912), an article written by Roger M. Haddock detailed the importance of the Shem Creek Harbor for smaller yachts. Haddock wrote:

Charleston is one of the worst harbors for yachts to lay in met with on the whole trip, as there is practically no shelter or any accommodation for small yachts….Charleston for all its size and commercial importance seems to be very poorly equipped for any repair work to boats or engines, but all other stores and provisions are readily available. While there is poor shelter around the city docks, either in the Ashley or Cooper River, there is a good place to lay in at Shem Creek, at Mt. Pleasant, whence a ferry boat runs into the city, which might be found acceptable if any lengthy stay in the city is required.

Shrimp & Fisheries

In 1930, Captain C. Magwood was the first fisherman to bring ocean shrimp into Mount Pleasant. Seven years later, a bridge was built over the creek, and within two decades the first shrimp dock was constructed. After that, Moultrie Fisheries established Shem Creek’s seafood ice manufacturing. Now the support was in place for a strong seafood industry to emerge and shrimping grew into an important harbor industry centered at Shem Creek. In their heyday, seventy shrimp trawlers operated off the docks. By 2011, there were about ten trawlers remaining in the harbor along with a few charter boats.

Today, the creek is best known for its traditional historic charm as a vibrant backdrop for restaurants and bars offering an energetic night scene for the under-thirty crowd. Nevertheless, like generations in the past, modern Mount Pleasant residents value Shem Creek for its constant provision of abundant seafood, transportation, recreation, and employment.

Modern Companies on Shem Creek

The list of companies hosted by Shem Creek in the modern era includes: * Mount Pleasant Boat Builders * A produce packing shed * Shelmore Oyster Products (1940s) * Mount Pleasant Seafood (1945) * Shem Creek Fisheries * Bulls Bay Fish Company (1949) * Hay Oil Company (1950s) * Moultrie Fisheries. This company established the creek’s seafood ice industry. Ice was hauled in blocks and crushed on site. Later, machines produced 100 tons of ice per day. Moultrie Fisheries opened in 1957 and shuttered in 1989 (now the site of Red’s Ice House Restaurant) * Wando Shrimp Company * Magwood’s Seafood * Charleston Star Seafood Company * day trip recreational fishing companies (1970s) * Sea Island Boatbuilders

Shem Creek Bibliographic Summary: Town of Mount Pleasant, Shem Creek Waterfront: Final Master Plan, 2008; <>, (accessed 06/11/11); Tracy Magwood Mellichamp and Lisa Herndon Weaks, East Cooper: A Maritime Heritage (Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2008), p. 7-8, 15, 49, 53, 60, 64, 74, 77, 98, 110 (image); Reports of Department of Commerce and Labor 1905, Report of the Light House Board,, p. 183, (accessed 06/11/11); Mary-Julia C. Royall, Mount Pleasant: The Victorian Village (Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 1997), 61-66; Thomas Fleming Day ed., “The Southward Route Part III,” by Roger M. Haddock in The Rudder, Vol. 28 (New York: The Rudder Publishing Company, 1912), 172; Chris McCandlish, “More Bad News for Lowcountry Shrimpers,” Moultrie News, March 22, 2011.
Shem Creek Docks_200.JPG
Shem Creek Docks
Boat Building Co_200.jpg
Mount Pleasant Boat

Building Company

(Arcadia: East Cooper:

A Maritime Heritage)