Charleston Steeplechase is the product of two Charleston tour guides who wanted a more dynamic way to experience the history of Charleston. We thought that a running tour would be more scenic than a carriage tour, more intimate than a bus tour, and cover more ground than a walking tour.
Because Charleston is often referred to as the Holy City, based on the fact that there are over 180 churches within 3 square miles, we felt that the use of the word Steeplechase was an appropriate moniker to describe the tour. In fact, the track and field event known as the steeplechase derived its name from church steeples. The event originated in the British Isles where runners raced from one town’s steeple to the next. The steeples were used as markers due to their visibility over long distances.
The snake was incorporated into the logo because of the patriot battle cry “Don’t Tread On Me”. In the late 1700’s as the relationship between the British and the 13 colonies was deteriorating over the issue of taxation. The Charleston patriot Christopher Gadsden designed a flag to inspire those that had rallied around the cause for freedom.
He was inspired by Benjamin Franklin, who in 1775 suggested that the rattlesnake was a good symbol for the American spirit as “she never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders and she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her”.
In 1775 the first Marines enlisted in the fledgling U.S. Navy in the city of Philadelphia. Their task was to raid British ships attempting to resupply His Majesty’s army. Those first Marines carried drums painted yellow, depicting a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles, and the motto “Don’t Tread On Me.” Christopher Gadsden was one of seven members of the Marine Committee who were outfitting the first naval mission. He presented a yellow rattlesnake flag to serve as the distinctive personal standard of the Navy’s flagship. It was displayed at the mainmast, and hence, the Gadsden Flag was born.