Before the Island had a bridge, Charlie Simmons, Sr., became known as “Mr. Transportation” among the local community, which was made up of Gullah descendants of freed slaves following the Civil War.
Until the late 1920’s sailboats were the primary means of transportation to and from the Island. Mr. Simmons piloted sailboats, then bought the first locally owned motorboat. That boat meant that Islanders could make three trips to Savannah each week, rather than one. “Cap’n Charlie” spent the greater part of his life on the sea transporting goods and people to and from Hilton Head before a bridge connected the island to the mainland in 1956. He would bring butter beans, watermelons, shrimp, oysters, crabs, cows, and chickens to the market in Savannah. He also transported students to school and midwives to bedsides. Much of what the Native Islanders needed that they did not grow, they could purchase in one of the two general stores that Mr. Simmons owned, including kerosene for lamps before electricity. When Islanders asked for an item he didn’t have, he’d have it the next day.
“Cap’n Charlie’s” last boat was the “Alligator.” In it, he transported Charles E. Fraser, who would lead the development that turned the world’s eyes to Hilton Head. Mr. Transportation created a network of land vehicles after the bridge was built, to get people to work and bring supplies.
Simmons Fishing Camp was constructed in 1955, the year before the bridge was built. The lumber was cut at the Ulmer sawmill in Bluffton from pine trees that were felled on the Simmons property and floated from Broad Creek to the May River.
Today, we keep that family spirit alive at Fishcamp on Broad Creek - in the original building now offering great seafood, and in Cap’n Charlie’s memory, great service. Let us know what you need - we’ll get it for you!