Daufuskie Island’s public dock at Freeport Marina.
In 1883, near the location of the public dock, Maggioni & Company opened an oyster cannery which provided employment for many islanders. After the cannery closed in 1903, islanders continued to harvest and shuck oysters and transport them to nearby canneries. Daufuskie Island oysters were sold all over the world.
This enterprise continued until 1959 when pollution in the Savannah River ruined the oyster beds and curtailed the harvest of oysters. After that, the island’s population declined as people left the island to pursue job opportunities on the mainland.
Prior to the arrival of steamboats to the Lowcountry, islanders had to row their bateaux to the mainland and back. Steamboats provided not only easier access for islanders to conduct their “across the water” business. They also brought folks to the island for lively parties and picnics. It was always a highlight of the day when the steamship pulled into the dock.