Horry County, SC, has a rich history, and that heritage is on full display at its new and vastly improved museum. Recently relocated and updated, Horry County Museum is now a travel-worthy attraction from Myrtle Beach to the county seat in Conway, about 15 miles from the coast.
The modern makeover at Horry County Museum — Photo courtesy of Horry County Museum
Before the neon lights and high-rise hotels were built along the Grand Strand (the famous stretch of South Carolina beaches), the coastal area was little more than a dense maritime forest with terrain either too sandy or swampy for settlement. But the inland town of Conway, accessible by the Waccamaw River, was an industrial and agricultural center known for the production of tobacco, timber and turpentine - a key ingredient in early ship-building.
Famous pirates like Blackbeard prowled the Carolina coast and hid out in local inlets to avoid detection. General Francis Marion earned the nickname "The Swamp Fox" for battling and baffling the British in area bogs during the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War started just down the coast in Charleston. Myrtle Beach Air Force Base played a key role in World War II.
This is all part of the past that comes to life at the made-over Horry County Museum.
Relocating from the New Deal-era post office to the Burroughs School building just a few blocks up Main Street, the attraction gets a more historic setting in its new digs. At more than 100 years old, the Burroughs School is on the National Historic Register and encompasses about three times the space of the previous venue.
That's opened the door for several new exhibits to be displayed, as well as an auditorium for educational symposiums and more space for traveling displays. Among the many exhibits are the following:
- A photo gallery featuring the works of longtime local historian/photographer Jack Thompson
- A gallery honoring the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, with items from the South Carolina Museum and the Seventh South Carolina Infantry reenactment group
- A reconstructed waddle and daub Native American house with artifacts from the area
- A natural history exhibit showcasing native flora and fauna, including black bears, predatory birds and alligators, as well as the rare Venus Flytrap and the state tree, the palmetto
- An agricultural and industrial exhibit highlighting the harvesting and production of tobacco and turpentine
- A historical look at the history and development of tourism along the Grand Strand, featuring artifacts from Myrtle Beach's formative years as a vacation destination
The Horry County Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.