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

  • The Night Watch of Colonial Charleston, Part 2: 1696–1701

    This nocturnal force, composed of unpaid citizens who guarded the streets from sunset to sunrise, played an extremely important role in the everyday life of early Charleston, but you won’t find much written about it in the thousands of books and articles written about the history of this city. Today we’ll turn our time machines back to the twilight years of the seventeenth century, when the threat of a French invasion loomed over the Lowcountry.

  • Fish and Fishermen in 1888 Charleston

    It’s summertime in the Lowcountry, and the fish are jumping. Seafood season is definitely here, even if the shrimp are running a bit late this year. Fishing has been a big part of our community’s history since, well, long before Europeans and Africans arrived first here more than three centuries ago.

  • The Zenith and Decline of Ferry Service across the Cooper River

    After a century of human- and horse-powered ferry boats carrying passengers across the Cooper River, the arrival of steam power signaled a sea-change in our sense of mobility. The convenience provided by fast and powerful steam ferries fueled the first suburban development boom in the rural areas east of the Cooper River.

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