The Rich History of Myrtle Beach

Located on a 60 mile stretch of beach in the Grand Strand sits North Myrtle Beach. A part of Horry County, South Carolina, North Myrtle Beach came about in 1968. Made from four different municipalities north of Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove Beach, Crescent Beach, Ocean Drive Beach, and Windy Hill are all considered a part of North Myrtle Beach. The town has quickly grown from a quiet, laid-back beach town, to one of the most popular southeastern vacation destinations. While the town still holds its slower pace and of course charm, you can find the streets in the summer filled with visitors from all over, coming to experience the beach lifestyle. Take a walk down memory lane in North Myrtle Beach and learn it’s rich history and culture. 

The First Settlers

Photo Credit: waccamaw.org

It comes as no surprise that North Myrtle Beach was originally inhabited by Native Americans. The Waccamaw and Winyah Indians resided in the area and named it Chicora, or the land. Still, to this day there is a large rental company named after those who first lived here. Most of North Myrtle and Myrtle Beach was originally an Indian trail. Later this same trail became the common route from northern states to surrounding cities like Charleston or Savannah. While the English and Spanish did eventually come and settle in this area, there are still many artifacts such as arrows and pottery that you can find.

First Tavern Built

William Gause obtained over 250 acres of land in what is now known as Windy Hill, in 1737. While his main purpose for the land was to use it as farmland. He also gave back to the community, and maybe even set the pace of what turned this area into the travel hotspot that it is today.  Since most of his 250 acres were used for farming, he decided to create a tavern for travelers or visitors.  The tavern was located on what is known today as Kings Highway. This is just a short walk to the beach from the tavern.

Inhabiting The Beaches

While other cities, towns, and states were really taking off, that was not originally the case for the beaches in Horry County. Since the ocean was on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, this area was hard to access for those, making it a very poor economy. When the turn of the century happened in the Grand Strand and the Burroughs & Collins Company, later to be named Burroughs & Chapin, began to build up the beachfront. In 1901, the very first beach hotel was built in Horry County. This was the very start of the rise for the North Myrtle and Myrtle Beach area. When the development began, lots nestled on the oceanfront would sell for $25 or less. While now you can hardly get takeout for that cost, oceanfront land is in the hundred thousand without any buildings.

Not only was the land only $25, but if they built a building or home that was more than $500 they would receive an additional lot. After the English renamed the town Long Bay or Withers big Swamp they had a contest as to who could come up with the best name. MRS. F.E. Burroughs came up with the winning name of Myrtle Beach. However, you can still find many Long Bay references here today as well as Chicora.

The Expansion

Photo Credit: scpictureproject.org

Once the hotels started to be built, it did not take long for others to realize how much of a popular destination this would soon be, businessmen from all over began buying land and building resorts, many today that are still here. The area began to grow not only as the economy started to increase, but in 1940 an Air Force Base was established. This base was used for practice and training for coastal patrol during the World War II era. Around the same time the Airforce base started to make an appearance, so did the iconic beach amusement park. The Pavillion. This amusement park would bring people in from all over to experience the beach, and of course family fun. 

The Rebuild

While everything was going well and the economy had really picked up for the Horry County area, unfortunately, a natural disaster hit. In 1954 Hurricane Hazel demolished many buildings, trees, homes, and much more along the Grand Strand. When the rebuild started to take place, this is when the rebuild began. North and Myrtle Beach quickly turned into a golf course hub. Golf courses begin to pop up on every corner. Many of those golf courses have turned into neighborhoods and only a handful of them have gone out of business since then. While the area has only grown, it is constantly adding more attractions called my housing and hotels for visitors.

The Shag

North Myrtle Beach is known for being the inventor of the shag dance. Created in the 1940s and 50s on Ocean Drive asked the city just starting to take off, this dance started to become popular among visitors and locals alike. The dance is a classic box step gun to beach music, and you can still find the annual shag competition here early. Fat Harold’s is one of the very first Shag Bars in North Myrtle Beach, and it is still here to this day. The Shag was a way to celebrate the success that their town was having despite living through World War II.

North Myrtle Beach Today

Photo Credit: goglobehopper via Instagram

Today in North Myrtle Beach accommodates people from all over as they come to spend time at the Atlantic Ocean.  Still growing, there have been many attractions added such as shopping malls, outlet stores, attractions for kids, and much more. This all-around family vacation spot has everything a family needs to make the best memories. Starting from nothing, and working its way up to being one of the most visited places in the South East, North Myrtle Beach is always welcoming newcomers. 

While we are still growing, learning, and expanding, we hope to see you here soon to enjoy some fun in the sun, and maybe even learn how to Shag Dance. We have come quite a long way from the original $25 lots of land to full rows of beautiful, high-rise hotels that stretch as far as the eye can see.  We will always remember where we came from and what it took to get us here today.

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