Charleston has been reestablished as one of the major port cities on the East Coast since the Second World War by the advent of the phenomena of container cargo, and the farsightedness of the South Carolina State Ports Authority. Created in 1942, the Authority assumed control of the terminals and wharves already in Charleston, and expanded the facilities through the investment of millions of dollars. During the 1960s, this investment took the form of developing terminals for containerized cargo; the containers are the size and shape of railroad box cars or of large truck bodies, and can be unloaded from the hold of a ship and placed on railroad carriers or truck wheels without labor intensive handling of small packaging. The South Carolina State Ports Authority has nine custom-built container cranes to serve the ships that dock at its North Charleston terminals, or the Wando Welch Terminal shown here, which opened in 1982. Charleston is now ranked eighth in the nation in the volume of the containerized cargo that it handles. Photograph by Marion Bull, 1987.
Courtesy of the South Carolina State Ports Authority.