Hilton Head Lighthouse


Palmetto Dunes Plantation, Leamington 

The Federal government retained sufficient acreage of confiscated Leamington Plantation to erect a lighthouse and two lighthouse keepers cottages in 1861.  On nearby Broad Creek, where Leamington and Shipyard Plantations met, a dock was built in order to land supplies for the maintenance of the lighthouse and for the World War II Camp McDougel.  The dock burned and the keeper's cottages have been relocated to Harbour Town.

  • South Carolina Institute of A & A original listing

Hilton Head Lighthouse was placed at Bass Head Beach now part of Palmetto Dunes.  When the two lighthouse keepers' cottages were moved to Harbour Town in the 1960's, they were cut in half to facilitate moving.  When reconstructed five feet were added to the length of each one.  They are the two buildings facing directly onto Lighthouse Road. In 1999 a sign was placed in front of the left building stating it had come from other than Hilton Head.

  • Carter, Eddie, Sea Pines Architectural Review Board, interview

"...in World War II when U.S. Marines were stationed here.  There were new gun emplacements on the ocean shore near Bass Head and the Leamington lighthouse with barracks nearby.  The base was often known as Camp Dilling because it was on the former Dilling property, but according to the Department of Military History its title was Camp McDougal.  This camp was used by the U.S. Coast Guard through 1943 when it was garrisoned by a Marine caretaking unit, then abandoned."

  • Holmgren, Virginia C., Hilton Head, A Sea Island Chronicle, p. 131 

In 1939 the Marines had a rest camp and the Coast Guard patrolled the beach area.  There were two big guns - Loud Lucy and Big Betsy - 250 feet up on hill behind the beach - now underwater.

  • Oral History Tapes, 1989, Benny Hudson

“Hilton Head opened its dog training camp in 1942.”

  • Bishop, Eleanor C., Prints in the Sand, pgs. 37-38

There was a government telephone at the light house.

  • A Delightful Southern Home and Game Preserve

A lighthouse was first proposed for the island in 1854 but it was1863 before two lights were built by Union troops, a small forward light and a larger rear light.  The larger one was blown down in 1869.   The current tower was built and lit in the summer of 1881 and served into the 1930s.   The brown tower is 90 feet high with 112 steps to the top.  A number of tales and legends are told of the light and of the ‘blue lady’.

  • Kagerer, Rudy, A Guidebook to Lighthouses in S.C., GA., and FL’s East Coast. p. 20

Camp McDougal (Camp Dilling) a Marine artillery range for the nearby Parris Island Training Base, was chosen to be the center for training men, dogs and horses for the southeastern seaboard patrol.  The Army Remount Service at Front Royal, Virginia, provided the horses.  Every week 600 recruits reported and 600 were shipped out to patrol areas. The men were taught to ride (if necessary), to care for their horses and to do beach patrol work.  The dog training center opened in December 1942 and the dogs were used along the southeastern coast, especially in resort areas for patrol duty.

  • Bishop, Eleanor C., Prints In the Sand, The US Coast Guard Beach Patrol During W.W. II, p. 37-38

Camp Dilling was named for a retired Army officer who owned the land.  Story has it he suddenly put it up for sale after the death of a friend in a hunting accident. Captain Dilling was from Winston Salem, N.C. Known as the Hilton Head Agricultural Club (44 members from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee) the property was used as a hunting preserve.  In 1917, Charley Willingham from Chattanooga discovered the Dilling Hunting Preserve and lodge.  The original purpose of the Hilton Head Agricultural Club was to raise long staple cotton.   The boll weevil arrived with their first crop putting an end to the project.   The group then turned to the preservation of and propagation of wildlife and the area became known as the “Deer Capital of the Eastern Seaboard”.   Willingham was a descendent of the Stoney family from island history.

  • Chattanooga Free Press, December 3, 10, 17, 1964