About Charleston Time Machine

The Charleston Time Machine is an imaginary time-travel device created by historian Dr. Nic Butler. It uses stories and facts from the rich, deep, colorful history of Charleston, South Carolina, as a means to educate, inspire, amuse, and even amaze the minds of our community. By exploring the stories of our shared past, we can better understand our present world and plan more effectively for the future.

The Charleston Time Machine is piloted by Nic Butler, Ph.D., an interdisciplinary historian with an infectious enthusiasm for Charleston’s colorful past. A native of Greenville County, South Carolina, Dr. Butler attended the University of South Carolina before completing a Ph.D. in musicology at Indiana University. He has worked as archivist of the South Carolina Historical Society, as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston, and as an historical consultant for the City of Charleston. 

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Recent Trips in Charleston's History

  • Charleston’s Daily Bread: Regulating Retail Loaves from 1750 to 1858

    For nearly a century between 1750 and 1858, local government dictated the weight, price, and composition of breads prepared by Lowcountry bakers for retail sale. This practice was rooted in ancient traditions imported by English colonists, but its operation shaped the diets of all classes of Charlestonians and provoked debate about equal access to the necessities of life.

  • Parishes, Districts, and Counties in Early South Carolina

    The saints’ names applied to numerous landmarks, institutions, and roads around the Lowcountry are vestiges of parishes that once defined the political geography of lower South Carolina. Counties replaced the colonial-era parishes after the Civil War, but the legacy of the state’s evolving political boundaries provides a key for understanding the landscape inhabited by earlier generations.

  • Passenger Trains between Charleston and Summerville, from the Best Friend to BRT

    Commuter trains might not seem like an old Lowcountry tradition, but antebellum investors in the Charleston-metro area once embraced emerging technology to create one of the earliest mass transit corridors in the United States. Present efforts to revive that long lost transportation legacy draw inspiration from local history to spark a new era of regional mobility.

  • Bicycling the Ashley River Bridge in 1897

    Creating a safe bicycle route across the Ashley River has long been a topic of Charleston conversation. Local lobbyists in 1897 convinced the proprietors of only bridge over the river to make the structure more bike friendly. Their success heralded a golden age of cycling west of the Ashley and inspires the current campaign for improved access.

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Listen to the Podcast

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Don't know how to get a podcast? Let us help! 

Think of a podcast as a radio show that you can get on the internet and listen to, pause, restart, and skip through anytime you want. You have a couple options: You can listen to a podcast through a website like CCPL's, which is called streaming; or you can download the podcast, which means it is saved to your phone, tablet, or computer so you can listen to it anytime -- even without an internet connection. 

To stream the Charleston Time Machine: Visit the Time Machine page and either choose an episode from the player above or choose which story you want to know more about. In each story we embed a player of that episode so you can listen as you read. 

To download: Use an app and it will be delivered each week to your phone, tablet, or computer. You'll get a fresh Time Machine podcast every Friday afternoon! We offer downloads through services you may have heard of before: Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and Tune In. Just click on the icon above of the service you want to use and click the subscribe button. It's that easy! 

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