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Who was Cosgrove?

August 7, 2009

A lot of us drive Cosgrove Avenue to get to the Navy Yard. So who was Cosgrove anyway?
Colonel James Cosgrove (1861-1911) is the Father of Drainage in South Carolina. In 1898 he established the Charleston County Sanitary Drainage Commission. The 1903 Charleston Mayor’s Report tells that areas outside of the downtown had not been farmed because the fear of malaria from mosquitoes. James Cosgrove_2The Drainage Commission dug canals an ditches “necessary to carry the off from ponds and morasses that endanger the public health.” The Commission used chain gangs to dig and lay piping. In 1903, they completed the drainage of a 2 mile by 3 mile area between the Navy Yard and the boundary of the City of Charleston at a cost of $5,142. Success was declared because the convict laborers and others who lived on the site did not contract malaria. On the one hand, lots of fertile land was made available for farming, but on the other, wetland habitat was destroyed. What Cosgrove did a hundred years ago could not be done today.

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