Learn About the History of Myrtle Beach, SC
The now bustling tourist destination had humble beginnings
Jan 7, 2022 at 7:00 AM in Things to Do
A Brief History of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is a popular vacation destination known for its delightful resorts and beautiful summer weather. But this city had humble beginnings, like many others established in the early American period before it grew into the South Carolina staple that is today.
The land now known as Myrtle Beach didn't always look the way it does now. In fact, this man-made island was only established in the 1930s when the Intracoastal Waterway cut across the land to make shipping easier.
Before the small island that Myrtle Beach sits on was created, minimal history was known about this area. Before the European settlers migrated to the Myrtle Beach Area, which was called the 'Grand Strand' at the time, the native Waccamaw tribes lived in this area undisturbed for many generations.
However, this particular stretch of beach land was mostly uninhabited. Few records still exist about the transition of the land from the natives to the settlers.
What little records available indicate that the few who lived here likely made a living growing tobacco. Burial records of these early settlers only begin appearing at the beginning of the 19th century.
During the 1800s, one of the few families to live in this area were the Withers. However, a devastating hurricane blew through the area killing 18 people, and even they abandoned the town.
This left it again uninhabited, and the area became forested. It remained that way until this land was rediscovered by Franklin Burroughs. Franklin thought that the plentiful beaches and fine weather in southern South Caroline would make it perfect for building tourism. He instilled these ideas in his sons, who helped this area grow even after Franklin's death.
Calling itself 'New Town,' a railway opened nearby in 1900. The new community was held together by the newly established Withers Post Office. It was in the following year, 1901, that the first hotel in Myrtle Beach was built by the Burroughs family. They named it Seaside Inn, and the fare for a two-night stay and food was only $2.
New Town continued to grow and attract visitors until it was finally incorporated by the state and named Myrtle Beach after the wax myrtle bushes that grow in the area. Grand Strand now makes up a series of successful beach towns along the South Carolina coast.
What once was utterly uninhabited land now has a flush of over 1 million visitors each year, with a busy airport, luxury shopping, and great restaurants!
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