Beaufort News

Bike tour takes cyclists on a ride through Parris Island's past

Visitors to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island will get a chance to experience the island's 400-year history next week -- one pedal at a time.

For the second year, the Parris Island Historical and Museum Society is sponsoring the Iron Mike Bike Tour, a 15-mile, self-guided bicycle tour through Parris Island. The tour is named after the depot's famous gun-toting statue.

From 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 24, cyclists will start at the Parris Island Museum bound on a 16-stop tour through the depot's colonial, plantation and military pasts. Cyclists are free to include or exclude as many stops as they want, according to museum staff.

To guide the way, cyclists will be given maps of the route, which will be marked by signs directing riders to various stations and Parris Island landmarks where knowledgeable volunteers -- some donning period costumes -- wait to explain that site's historical significance.

Though known to many as simply home to the military's toughest training ground, Parris Island has an extensive past, which the bicycle tour helps shed a light on, said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, spokeswoman for Recruit Depot Parris Island.

"Although Parris Island was officially designated a Marine Corps Recruit Depot in 1905, its origins date back even further than 1715 when an Englishman, Col. Alexander Parris, purchased the island," Chapin said. "This depot is an important part of the Beaufort community, and we want to share its history."

Though the bicycle tour is free to the public, Stephen Wise, director of the Parris Island Museum, said last year's inaugural event helped raise money and awareness for the Parris Island Historical and Museum Society.

"It was really successful last year, and it gives people a better idea of the island's history," he said. "The local biking community really loves it, as well."

The Iron Mike Bike Tour was one of the events that helped Parris Island's Cultural Resource Office earn recognition last year by the Navy as having one of the Marine Corps' best cultural resource programs.