The Quinquagenarian Traveler: Horse Sense in Charleston

For years I had torn out magazine articles and filed a collection about why I should visit Charleston, S.C. If there were a linchpin among the myriad pieces, it would consist of one word: charm.

Unfortunately I found little during the first viewing of the decidedly Southern city (South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, and the Civil War began at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor). But that changed the second day of my visit as I took that most touristy of choices: a horse-drawn carriage ride.

It is the only way to efficiently see Charleston and to learn about it. For an hour, one passes antebellum houses, some with welcoming double staircases and many of which double as museums. Churchyards are dotted with gravestones, some from the 17th century. The Four Corners of Law is a special intersection, featuring a church, U.S. Post Office, city hall and county building — otherwise known as hail, mail, jail, and bail.


The elegant U.S. Post Office at the Four Corners of Law.

Lest one think the historic streets must be lined with horse manure, be heartened that drivers are required to drop a marker wherever a horse goes to the bathroom for a worker to clean up.

My magazine articles perhaps got me too excited about the charming attractions of a surprisingly large city (population near 100,000), but at least a slow-paced carriage ride opened my eyes to some of the beauty in town.