This 654-acre site located within the Caw Caw Swamp is just 25 minutes from downtown Charleston, Summerville and Walterboro. The Center, rich in natural, cultural and historical resources, is comprised of several former rice plantations that operated during the 18th and most of the 19th century. Here and throughout the South Carolina Lowcountry, enslaved Africans and African Americans were forced to apply their West and Central African agricultural experience, technology, and skills to rice cultivation. Out of vast Lowcountry swamps these men, women and children successfully converted thousands of acres to rice fields. Still evident today are the earthen dikes, water control structures called rice trunks, and canals-all fruits of their slave labor.
Today, Interpretive Center staff manage the former rice fields and adjacent areas at the center as a wildlife sanctuary for over 350 species of plants and 11 major plant communities. These plant communities include fresh, brackish and salt water marshes; cypress-tupelo swamp; and maritime, bottomland and beech-holly forests. These diverse communities provide habitat for over 200 species of birds, 30 species of mammals, 28 species of amphibians, 38 species of fish, and 52 species of reptiles. At Caw Caw visitors may witness bald eagles perched or soaring over the swamp, otters playing in canals, wild turkeys foraging in the forests, alligators sunning themselves, or dragonflies darting about the waterways.
The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission's Interpretive and Education Program, begun in 1989, is now housed at the Caw Caw Interpretive Center. Dedicated to educating the public about Charleston's cultural and natural heritage as well as human impact on our environment, the center is staffed by a group of very talented and experienced interpreters, educators, and naturalists.