CHARLESTON, S. C., the chief city of the State, and most important on the Atlantic seaboard south of Chesapeake Bay, seat of Charleston County: 130 miles southeast of Columbia, the capital, and 82 miles north of Savannah. Railroad service includes Atlantic Coast Line and connections (Charleston & W. Carolina; Georgia Railroad; Cola., N. & L. Winston-Salem Southbound; N. C. & St. L.; L. & N.)— Southern Railway and connections (9. C. and Georgia Railroad)—and Seaboard Air Line and connections.
Charleston lies on a peninsula, 10 or 12 miles long and 8 or 10 feet above high water, between the navigable Ashley and Cooper rivers, 2,100 yards and 1,400 yards wide re spectively at the mouth; the latter reinforced by the Wando at the city, and the estuary of the three forming a magnificent landlocked harbor, six miles long by three wide, with 40 feet of water at the city— one of the finest, safest and most spacious on the Atlantic Coast.
The harbor's channel, lying for some dis tance between jetties, is 700 feet wide and has a mean depth at low water of 28 feet and at high water of 33 feet. There are about 17 miles of available waterfront, with develop ment constantly in progress on both the Ashley and the Cooper rivers. During the years 1910 to January 1916, for example, wharfage and ter minal improvements costing nearly $5,500,000 were made. Ocean traffic has been quick to take advantage of the several large induce ments held out by Charleston and now its i steamship service includes Clyde Steamship Company (Boston, New York, Jacksonville) ; Baltimore & Carolina SS. Company (Balti more, Georgetown) ; Philadelphia & New Or leans SS. Company (Philadelphia, New Or leans) ; Southern Transportation Company (barge line, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Wilmington, Georgetown) ; American-Hawaiian SS. Company (West Coast U. S.) ; Luckenbach SS. Company (contract semi" West Coast, South America) ; Grace Line contract serv ice, West Coast, South America) ; Carolina Line (contract European service) ; United Fruit Company (port of call) ; Sea Island Steamboat Company (Charleston, Beaufort).
The resemblance of Charleston's position to that of New York in its rivers and harbors is striking. Freight here is moved directly' from vessel to freight cars, or vice-versa, without lightering or trucking. Distances from the Central West to Charleston are not great and the city has just entered upon a period of re lationship with the Central Western cities and manufacturing points that promises to make of Charleston the port of export and import for all these cities and manufacturing points. From a military and naval viewpoint, Charles ton's position is of supreme importance to all the Southeast. In 1,728 miles of coast line, from Cape Hatteras to the mouth of the Rio Grande, it has the only United States navy yard. Also, it is the only place on the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts with a dry dock large enough to repair a battleship. The city is only seven and one-half miles from the ocean and the channel is easily mined and is protected by forts Sumter and Moultrie. It is located
directly north of the Panama Canal, from which its sailing distance is only 12 per cent greater than that from New Orleans. It has the only large coaling terminals on the coast and is the distributing point for the Carolinas of two of the greatest oil com panies. Admirals of the navy have repeat edly pointed out its wonderful strategic ad vantages and its practical impregnability. The Charleston navy yard is to-day in a high state of efficiency, employing more than 4,500 people and paying civilian wages of more than $5,000,000 annually. Charleston, at the time of America's entrance into the World War, be came the headquarters of the Southeastern Military Department and of the Sixth Naval District.
Trade and Commerce.— At the outbreak of the Civil War, Charleston's export trade in cotton, rice and naval stores made up the largest part of a total of about $17,000,000 an nually. The war reduced this to almost noth ing. The work of repairs to docks, wharves and railroads was slow and it is only in recent years that Charleston has recovered from her tremendous losses and has begun to forge ahead rapidly. Recent years, however, have witnessed strides that are record-breaking, as seen in the statistics for 1903 and 1913: Foreign imports, (1903) $1,768,000, (1913) $5,361,000; coastwise imports, (1903) $10,315,000, (1913) $22,040,000; foreign exports, (1903) $3,468,003, (1913) $20, 783,000; coastwise exports, (1903) $32,107,000, (1913) $31,040,000; total exports and imports, (1903) $47,659,000, (1913) $79,225,000. The rate of increase since then has been even greater, the total commerce for 1915 being $222,881,814, and that for 1916 being $320,048,883. The prin cipal exports are cotton, cotton goods, lum ber, fertilizers, cigars and tobacco, fruits and vegetables. Charleston is the centre of the second most important trucking district of the country and is the shipping point for the prod ucts of this district. In recent years, the com pletion of the Panama Canal and freight rate adjustments have made the merchants of Charleston begin to look to the Middle West for a large export trade in manufactured articles. Charleston's wholesale business in 1915 amounted to $30,801,484. Coal terminals cost ing $600,000 were constructed in 1915 and others to cost an equal amount are now under con struction. These terminals and rate adjust ments have made Charleston the most import ant coaling port on the South Atlantic and the outlet for some of the largest coal fields. There have recently been installed two large fuel oil tanks, each of 700,000 gallons capacity, making this the most important oil supply and distribu tion point between Baltimore and New Orleans. The government is now constructing terminals to cost between twenty and thirty millions dollars at North Charleston for both war and peace uses.