At a point about four and a half miles southwest if the epicentrum we come upon one of the most interesting and instructive monuments of the earthquake to be found in the whole epicentral tract. The locality is the site of an old town named Dorchester, long since abandoned and overgrown with forest. The place has interesting historic associations with colonial and revolutionary times, and has been made the scene of one of Gilmore Simms's most pleasing classic stories. In a thick wood, a few hundred yards from the Ashley River, stands the ruin of an old brick church. Around it are the fallen and moldering gravestones of the forgotten dead overgrown with brush and jungle. Of the church, all that remained at the time of the earthquake was the tower, which was 18 feet square at the base and rose to a height of nearly 40 feet. The walls of this tower on the northwest and southeast sides were 3 feet 10 inches thick, and on the other two sides about two feet thick. From its summit large blocks of brick and mortar-as much as 15 or 20 cubic feet in each block-were hurled in four directions. One large mass struck the ground 35 feet from the base of the tower on the northeast side, and in its descent stripped branches and bark from a tree with which it came in contact. Another mass of nearly equal volume was hurled in the opposite direction from the (p. 297) summit of the tower and at an equal distance. Large masses were also thrown in directions at right angles to the above, but not to such great distances. It was my privilege to see these relics under the guidance of Mr. Sloan, and after studying them carefully I could see no escape from his conclusion that the greater fragments had been actually projected to a distance of 35 feet the base of the tower. That the blocks did not strike the ground nearer to the base and roll farther away was clearly established by most careful investigation, and the lacerated bark and branches of the tree immediately above the spot where the largest block lay was to my mind conclusive.

A little beyond this ruin is the Ashley River, where there still stands an old fort, built of a peculiar concrete, consisting of oyster shells embedded in a lime-mortar obtained by burning and calcining oyster shells-the same shell-lime which Dr. Manigault praises so highly. It deserves his praise, for the old fort-wall, built more than a hundred years ago, is as fresh and hard as newly cut granite. But the earthquake broke it in many places and severely cracked it, especially at the northeast corner. Hard by the fort are several wide cracks in the ground parallel to the river. (p. 298)

Close Window