Range Island, in the middle of Lake Murray, was used for target practice
during WWII by "Dolittle's Raiders", who later became famous for their
attack on Japan which helped to bring an early end to the war.
Also known as Doolittle Island or
Lunch Island, it is North America's first officially designated Purple
Martin sanctuary. No one is sure why, but thousands and thousands
of Purple Martins come to roost on this island on Lake Murray every summer
evening. This has become one of Lake Murray's major attractions,
with up to a hundred or more boats converging around the island to watch
this amazing spectacle just before dusk.
Although the birds begin their roosting
in June, the peak time is late July and throughout August. In September
the birds begin returning to South America for their winter hibernation.
Purple Martins are a member of the
swallow family. Since their diet consists of flying insects, they
are a welcome guest for people who live on or around Lake Murray.
Many people construct Purple Martin houses (many times just clusters of
gourds) to attract these birds and control mosquitos. It is said
that a yard with a nest of Purple Martins is a mosquito-free yard!
Come one evening, and see the sky
filled with thousands of Purple Martins over beautiful Lake Murray!
If you don't own a boat, many companies on Lake Murray will rent
one for a few hours or the day, or you can take one of the frequent Purple
Martin sightseeing cruises.
There are several fishing guides who
are also happy to provide a personalized evening on the lake.