For the first half of the 19th century, in the glory days of King Cotton, Spring Island was the premier cotton plantation in the fertile South Carolina Lowcountry, enabling George Edwards to be the richest man in the state and one of the wealthiest in the country. This was a distinction he enjoyed for 50 years.
At the outbreak of the Civil War and the subsequent demise of King Cotton, Spring Island gave its fields back to nature. The recycling of giant live oaks and towering Loblolly pines began. And ever since then, the primary steward of the island has been none other than Mother Nature herself. Man has been assigned lesser duties -- such pursuits as fishing, hiking, riding, hunting, admiring and, most importantly, preserving. Such preservation includes the Old Tabby Ruins. Built with tabby, a native material made of crushed oyster shells, these ruins are among the largest and best preserved in the south. They are also among the most photographed and painted scenes in the South.