What's in a name?

It may fascinate you to know that Horry County was named for Peter Horry, a colonel under Francis Marion during the American Revolution. Horry County spans the northern 35 miles of the Grand Strand, and Georgetown County takes up the southern 25 miles. Georgetown was named for King George II, who originally granted all this land to various settlers. Before he was king he was known as Prince George Winyah, and that's one huge clue to a strange name you see floating around this entire region, particularly in the vicinity of Winyah Bay.

You're likely to hear claims that Winyah is a Native American name, and it certainly sounds like one. It sounds like it would fit right in with the others, Waccamaw and Wachesaw.

At the turn of the 20th century when some preliminary cottages and businesses first sprouted along the shoreline, the earliest settlement was called New Town, to distinguish it from Conway several miles inland, which was an old town. That soon changed - maybe about the time the town stopped being very new - and the reference to myrtle was an acknowledgement of the wax myrtle shrub that grew abundantly in the area, soon to be bulldozed to make way for shops, restaurants, attractions and lots of asphalt.

The name Myrtle Beach was the brainchild of Franklin G. Burroughs or one of his progeny. He might have more accurately named it Burroughs Beach, since his family would survive and proliferate much longer than the shrubbery. Burroughs came to the area in 1865 and formed an alliance with Benjamin G. Collins, to be known as Burroughs & Collins. He married Adeline Cooper who produced five sons, and he shared with his family his vision of a rollicking resort that he would not live to see, to be built on this barren, windswept beach.

The next Burroughs generation dissolved the partnership with Collins and found a partner with much deeper pockets. Simeon Brooks Chapin was a financier from the power corridors of Chicago and New York, and the new partnership was called Myrtle Beach Farms Co. True to its name, it was pretty much devoted to agriculture, to buying and cultivating vast expanses of cheap land that stretched across the oceanfront as well as inland for many miles. The company also trafficked in timber and built a small rail line with a steam engine known as the Black Maria, which initially had no passenger cars. People who traveled from Conway to the beach rode on the open flatcars, and sparks from the locomotive blew straight back in their faces.

The Burroughs family was much impressed with the lengths beach tourists would go to - surely the wind from the moving train fanned the flames and ignited hair and clothing - and thus inspired, they built the Seaside Inn in 1901, the first of many oceanfront attractions from this fledgling enterprise. The Seaside Inn had no electricity or plumbing, but it was not without charm. It was a gabled, two-story structure with a broad porch, changing rooms, a plank walkway to the beach and an open pavilion where musicians played dance tunes on warm summer nights. Two dollars a day covered food and lodging.

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