Horry County (pronounced O-ree) is one of the largest counties in the Eastern United States at over 1100 sq. miles and is drained by two major river systems, the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee. This low, sandy land along the coastal plain of South Carolina supports dense stands of long-leaf pine which fostered the areas first economic growth in the production of Naval Stores. Today, the county’s major industry is tourism with the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach attracting millions of visitors annually.
Probably no other individual feature of Horry County has been as important to the history and development of the area as the Waccamaw River. In 1734 Kingston Township was first surveyed with the town of Kingston (later to become Conway) as its center. The importance of Kingston was its access to the Waccamaw River and through Winyah Bay to the shipping lanes of the Atlantic. Rafting logs on the Waccamaw River required stamina and skill to snake the long rafts of freshly cut cypress and native pines to the great saw mills on the river. Rafters would live on the rafts, building shelters during cold weather and even cooking their meals on the floating logs.
Native Americans of the Coastal Plain
The first people of Horry County arrived centuries before the first European set foot on this continent. Their life-styles changed throughout the ages in accordance with the changing climate and resources but their heritage remains an invaluable contribution to our lives today.
There is no doubt that the first people to inhabit the coastal plain of South Carolina were the Paleo hunters who followed the herds of mastadon and other large game onto the marshy coastlands. It may have been as long as 20,000 years ago that these first peoples made their camp fires, sang their songs, nursed the sick and buried their dead next to the beach we now call the Grand Strand.
The Southeastern Woodland cultures dominated the Coastal Plain of South Carolina for 1200 years and it is the remnants of this culture that are most prominently found in the form of pottery remains. The pottery of the Woodland people was usually tempered with crushed rock or grit instead of vegetable fibers and was finished with several characteristic surface decorations.
Loggers and Locomotives
One hundred years ago, logging consisted of a physical struggle between men and animals and the natural environment. The abundant timber stands of the Coastal Plain encouraged the early industry of logging even though the swampy lowlands which interspersed the county proved a formidable obstacle for the loggers. Crews of 20 - 50 men worked long and arduous hours bringing the lumber to the mill. Operations would set up camp in a heavily forested area and remove timber until the supply was depleted or until transportation became too costly. Until railways were built to transport logs, camps were situated with access to major waterways where logs were rafted together and floated to the mill.
Your Horry County visit begins with the Horry County Museum. Housed in the Old Burroughs School located at the corner of 9th Ave and Main, the museum features a variety of historical and regional exhibits. It is the perfect place to learn about the rich culture and history of the region. The museum offers a variety of programs throughout the year, as well as, seasonal events at the L W Paul Living History Farm located on Harris Short Cut Rd.
The museum is free and open to the public. Each month the museum has special programs available to the public so check back here for updates or keep an eye for posts in local media. For information on specific tours or programs, please contact the museum.
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