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The History of Myrtle Beach

The History of Myrtle Beach

The Myrtle Beach area and the Grand Strand have a long history. There are many different versions of the same tale, as the stories were told over and over again by different people. However, this hasn’t diminished the importance of these tales to our local culture, or the enjoyment of hearing, reading, or re-telling them.

The area’s first inhabitants were the Waccamaw and Winyah Indians, who named the region Chicora, meaning “the land.” These first inhabitants are the subject of the oldest stories. However, the documented facts about these local tribes are scarce. There were also early attempts by European explorers to settle there but the settlement was ravaged by disease and the inhabitants died within a year, so it was not a success.

Until the 1900s, the beaches of Horry County were virtually uninhabited due to the county’s geographical inaccessibility and poor economy. Just then, Burroughs & Collins Company – a timber / turpentine firm with extensive beachfront holdings – began developing the Myrtle Beach area as a resort. In 1901, they began building the beach’s first hotel, namely the Seaside Inn. The beach community was previously called as “New Town” until someone name Horry Herald sponsored a contest to officially name the area. Mrs. F.E. Burroughs, the wife of the founder of Burroughs & Collins, won with the newfound name “Myrtle Beach”, in which she chose because of the many wax myrtle trees surrounding and growing wild along the shore.

Then came 1920s, wherein a group of businessmen began building an upscale resort named Arcady at the north part of the community. After that, several major developments then took place along the Grand Strand area. In 1936, the Intracoastal Waterway was opened for boats and commercial shipping. In 1940s, because of World War II, and Air Force base was established to be used for training and coastal patrols. The Myrtle Beach Pavilion was also built in 1949, and the historic band organ and carousal were built in 1954. Myrtle Beach was incorporated in 1938 and became a city in 1957.

Hurricane Hazel, which happened during 1954, destroyed buildings and trees along the Grand Strand, which cleared the way for new hotels and homes. The 1960s was then a rebuilding phase for the said city. A golf boom began, with new courses being built each year. The number of golf courses along the Grand Strand now totals around 115.

The Grand Strand currently attracts over 14 million visitors and thousands of new residents to the area, each year. The Myrtle Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area was listed as the ninth-fastest growing area in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics released in March 2011. This just how Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand has improved over the decades.