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American Orient Express

United States - Deluxe Rail Journeys On Americas Premier Train

By Carl Morrison,

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Charleston, South Carolina

"America's Most Historic City" 

Day 3 - Charleston, South Carolina.

Traveling further north, past sweet magnolias and sleepy rural towns, [all after dark] we arrive in Charleston.  Experience the warm salt air, the sweet smells of southern gardens in bloom and the architectural spendor as the city unfolds before you.  Charleston is one of the South's loveliest and best-preserved cities, where the residents tend to their homes and gardens in much the same style as their ancestors did over 300 years ago.  We tour Charleston by horse-drawn carriage, riding over the cobblestone streets and through the charmingly restored neighborhoods.  After lunch in the city, enjoy free time in the historic marketplace, and an antebellum garden tour of the downtown area.  (B, L, D)

We arrived at our parking place, the closed Charleston Naval Base, about 1 a.m.  I arose about 6 a.m. and noticed my GPS said 97.8 miles since Savannah.  It also said our location was "2286 Avenue D, Charleston Naval Complex."  I got the club car attendant to open her vestibule door and put down the steps so I could take some morning-light photos of the AOE.  This was the best place we would park this week for good exterior photographs of the train.  The train was parked north to south and along the west side of the train were cedar trees, a second track, closely mowed grass, and a blacktop street. 

I was singing, "Nothin' could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning," as I stepped off the train, it was a beautiful, cool, crisp, clear, dry morning.  The turtle doves welcomed me outside the train with their hooooot, hoot, hoot.  The second verse to the song is, "Nothin' could be sweeter than my Sweetie when I meet her in the morning," which is also appropriate for me on this trip!

The staff had placed this walkway over the second track for our safe movement to the tour busses.

I enjoyed finding spots to make images of the train through the Spanish moss.  The two engines were providing power for the train.

As I walked around the back of the New York Observation Car, the morning light was golden on the west side.
The lagoon, a few yards behind the AOE, was peaceful with the sounds of bird calls in the morning air.
After breakfast, we detrained and boarded coaches for a trip into the nearby historic district and a horse-drawn carriage tour of the beautiful homes near the market.  Porters were always aligned to give a helping hand and assure our safe movement across the tracks.

Tour Leader, Jef Bennet (right), who I later dubbed "Snackman" because he constantly and consistently provided half-pints of water and snacks each time we were on the busses, made sure we all made it through each site and back on the bus.  This April Fool's Day, the guides had switched nametags...a fun-loving group!

On the bus, we were welcomed by our Tales of the South guide, Barriedel, to "The Low Country" and informed that our train's location was in North Charleston.  In 1993 this Charleston Navy Base was closed, but the ship yard and air force base are still open.  The U.S. government is still the largest employer here.  The Cooper River Bridge Race was being held this morning.  Our guide said the bridge is the largest cable bridge in the U.S.

Beautiful homes face the bay and Fort Sumter.
Rainbow Street is aptly name.
Church spires and steeples dominate Charleston's skyline.
We met our carriage horse, Colby, the same breed the Knights rode.

Our city guide (above) was excellent.  Occasionally Colby (the carriage horse) would have a 'code yellow' and our driver would radio in for a cleanup and he'd drop a marker.
Since this was a home and garden tour, the carriage ride was an excellent pace to see them.  This wisteria covered wrought iron fence was characteristic with the American and South Carolina flags, brick house, and shutter window, inside and out.
Our 'surry with the fringe on top' stopped at this beautiful front door and our driver explained that the city provided gas for all the gas lamps and front gas lights for the homes.

This historic home had 'air conditioning.'  The cupola, with windows open, creates a draft to bring the breezes off the ocean into the home during the unbearably hot and humid summers.

Cast iron garden bench at the Nathaniel Russell House.
April is a beautiful time to visit Charleston.
The Nathaniel Russel House gardens provided an education about iron.  Charleston is second in the number of iron porches only to New Orleans.

Day 4 - Charleston, South Carolina

After breakfast on the train, we visited the Magnolia Plantation, home to America's Oldest Garden.  Amazing Horticultural Maze of over 500 large camellia bushes.  Grand bridges and a beautiful natural swamp.

This plantation was known as, "Magnolia on the Ashley."
Very large wrap-around porch on second floor meant you were at blossom height as you relaxed!

Garden path from the house to the Ashley River.

Wisteria (right) along the garden path.
Magnolia Plantation meets the Ashley River.

When Henry Ford stuffed his Model Ts seats with Spanish moss, he didn't know there were chiggers in the moss.  Thus the saying, "I've got an itch for a Ford."

The Cypress knees (right) growing in the swamp reminded me of Cypress Gardens in Florida.
Another statue of 'The Bird Girl' was in the gardens.

We were welcomed back onboard, had lunch, and we began our second ride as we proceeded onto the mainline to Richmond, Virginia.

[ Top of this Page | Dining | Factsheet | Rolling Stock | History | Golden Age of Rail | Savannah | Charleston | Richmond (Williamsburg and Monticello) | Staff  Photos | Notes and Photos ]

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