The Myrtle Beach area and the Grand Strand have a storybook history. Indeed, dozens of books have been written about long-lost Indian tribes, colorful pirates, and roaming ghosts. But for the most part, these stories have been shared orally - told and retold over hundreds of years, generation after generation. Not surprisingly, the stories change over time, as different storytellers add their own embellishments. As a result, there are many different versions of the same tale. 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." Kings Highway - a major thoroughfare through the Myrtle Beach area - began as an Indian trail long before Europeans settled along the Grand Strand. Later, this trail became the route from the northern states to Charleston and Savannah. These first inhabitants are the subject of the oldest and perhaps most elusive stories. While much has been written about Native Americans, documented facts about local tribes in the Myrtle Beach area are scarce. Physical evidence of their existence and way of life has been more forthcoming, however, as arrowheads, pottery, and other artifacts continue to turn up.
Early attempts by European explorers to settle the Grand Strand were disastrous. Spaniard Lucas Vasques de Allyon founded the first colony in North America here in 1526, but the settlement was ravaged by disease, and the inhabitants perished within a year.
English Settlement & Colonial History.
A new chapter in the area's history and lore was introduced after English colonists settled in the area. Suddenly, goods and supplies needed to be imported and exported across the ocean. By the 1700s, scores of pirates had taken to the high seas to intercept cargo vessels and make off with the goods. The South Carolina coastal waters were especially productive for pirates - and the coves and inlets along the Grand Strand provided great hiding places for these marauders. Pirates who became local legends include Edward Teach, called Blackbeard because of his coal-black beard, and Drunken Jack, who was left behind on an island with a huge stash of stolen rum - and was rumored to have died with a smile on his face. Meanwhile, English colonists formed Prince George Parish and laid out plans for Georgetown, the state's third oldest city, in 1730. Surrounded by rivers and marshlands, Georgetown became the center of America's colonial rice empire.