In the 1870s congress authorized $40,000 for the construction of two lights, a front and rear range lighthouse to guide vessels into Port Royal Sound. The rear range lighthouse, a cast-iron skeleton tower built about a mile inland on six concrete piers, stands 92 feet tall. Light from the structure was visible from 15 miles away. It was activated in 1880.
The lighthouse, which originally included a wooden exterior, was deactivated in 1932. During World War II, however, the structure served as an important lookout tower for enemy ships and anchored Camp McDougal.
Greenwood Communities and Resorts, the parent company of Palmetto Dunes, restored the historic structure in 1985 and opened the lighthouse grounds to the public. The Hilton Head Rear Range Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 12, 1985. View the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination form here.
In September 2019, the Hilton Head Rear Range Lighthouse went through a very extensive renovation again. Learn more about its restorations here.