History of Horry County, North Myrtle Beach, and Cherry Grove
Horry County (Source: Wikipedia)
“Horry County (pronounced O Ree) was created from Georgetown District in 1801. At this time, the county had an estimated population of 550. Isolated by the many rivers and swamps typical of the South Carolina Lowcountry, the area essentially was surrounded by water, forcing its inhabitants to survive without much assistance from the ”outside world”. This caused the county residents to become an extremely independent populace, and they named their county “The Independent Republic of Horry”. The county was named after, and in honor of, Revolutionary War hero Peter Horry!4! who was born in South Carolina around 1743. Horry started his military career in 1775 as one of 20 captains, elected by the Provincial Congress of South Carolina, to serve the 1st and 2nd Regiments. In 1790, he was assigned to the South Carolina militia under Brigadier General Francis Marion.”
North Myrtle Beach (Source: Lewis, Catherine H. Horry County, South Carolina, 1730- 1993. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998.
Written by Eldred E. Prince, Jr.)
“North Myrtle Beach anchors the northern end of South Carolina’s Grand Strand. Native Americans sojourned here, and prehistoric shell deposits attest to the area’s long- standing popularity as a seasonal resort. Europeans and Africans began settling the region as early as the 1740s. A few families (notably Bellamys, Bessants, Nixons, and Vereens) acquired tracts encompassing much of the area. In time, large holdings were subdivided by sale and inheritance. The plantation culture common farther down the coast never developed here, but the region’s dense, old growth forests provided abundant timber and naval stores. Thus, subsistence farming supplemented by fishing and logging became a way of life for generations.
“Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, farmers from western Horry County came by covered wagon to fish and enjoy the beach. They camped behind the dunes, cooked their catch over open fires, and salted barrels of spots and mullets to take home. It was at once work and recreation for these hearty folk.
“With the automobile came paved roads and bridges that linked Horry County to the rest of South Carolina. Locals quickly adapted accommodations to the increasing numbers of tourists. By the 1940s communities were evolving along the north strand. Simple frame houses, some built on stilts, rose along the oceanfront. In 1950 Futch Beach was joined to the Nixon family’s Cherry Grove property by filling an inlet that separated them. The new entity was renamed Cherry Grove Beach.
“A large tract to the south was developed in 1948 by Charles T. Tilghman, Jr., of Marion County. Tilghman Beach benefited from restrictive covenants and sound planning, becoming an upscale residential enclave. Farther south, Ocean Drive Beach and Crescent Beach were developed by investors from Florence. A pavilion and amusement
park drew crowds to play and dance the shag. Windy Hill Beach was developed by Conway investors after World War II. Because Jim Crow laws denied accommodations to blacks and deed restrictions prohibited land sales to “persons of African descent,” an all-black resort, Atlantic Beach, was developed by black entrepreneurs.
“On October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel struck. Many homes and businesses vanished, and others were made uninhabitable. Beach communities were paralyzed by the destruction. Daunted by the prospect of rebuilding, many elected to sell their property at bargain prices. Thus, larger parcels became available for hotel sites and other commercial enterprises. By removing older dwellings and expediting land consolidation, Hurricane Hazel actually accelerated development.
“The beach boomed in the 1960s. Summer tourism increased, and new golf courses expanded “beach season” into spring and fall. In 1968 Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive Beach, Crescent Beach, and Windy Hill consolidated into North Myrtle Beach. Atlantic Beach declined the invitation to join. In the 1970s multistory condominiums and hotels began replacing single-family housing on the oceanfront. On the marsh at Cherry Grove, numerous “channels” were dug, draining and filling wetlands for more development. By the early twenty-first century the rapid increase in housing units had strained local resources and infrastructure to the limit.”
Cherry Grove and the Cherry Grove Pier (Source: Oceana Resorts Blog)
“Cherry Grove has been a home away from home for many since the 1950’s. The small beach town received its name from Cherry Grove Plantation, which occupied the area in the early 1700s. Over the years, the plantation was sold and a portion of it was eventually transformed into Cherry Grove Beach. In its early years, Cherry Grove was mainly gas stations, open roads and the famous “swing-bridge”, which still stands today. Cherry Grove is joined by neighboring beach towns such as Windy Hill, Crescent Beach and Ocean Drive to collectively make the city of North Myrtle Beach.
“The Cherry Grove Pier is perhaps the biggest landmark of our little beach town. Since its origination, fisherman and families have been coming to the Cherry Grove Pier to experience fantastic fishing and views of our beautiful ocean and coastline. When it comes to hurricanes, the Cherry Grove Pier is all too familiar. In 1989, our beautiful landmark was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo. It was remodeled quickly, only to be damaged again by Hurricane Floyd ten years later. After a lengthy renovation, The Cherry Grove Pier was back and better than ever with a two-story observation deck, tackle shop and restaurant.”