As one of America’s most popular family-friendly vacation destinations, Myrtle Beach is today home to more than 450 hotels and resorts, which together offer nearly 90,000 accommodation units — and that doesn’t even factor in other tourism-heavy Grand Strand communities like North Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Murrells Inlet and Conway. But just like anywhere else, Myrtle Beach had humble beginnings before becoming the coastal-travel icon it is today. In fact, around the turn of the century, a single hotel started it all — the Seaside Inn.
Before 1900, the area’s upstart economy and relative isolation kept its beaches largely undeveloped and uninhabited. But as the turn of the century neared, Burroughs and Collins — a predecessor to today’s Burroughs & Chapin real estate company — built the first railroad through the surrounding swamps to the beaches of present-day Myrtle Beach. While the initial purpose of the railroad was to deliver timber inland from the company’s extensive beachfront holdings, company employees soon began riding its flatcars to the beaches on their free weekends — effectively becoming the Grand Strand’s first tourists. The railroad’s eastern terminus became known as “New Town,” in contrast with Conway’s “Old Town” moniker.
Before the railroad’s completion, company owner Franklin Burroughs envisioned that the coastal area could become a tourist destination along the lines of Coney Island and Atlantic City, some of the most popular destinations of the day. While he died in 1897, Burroughs’ sons pursued his vision by opening the Seaside Inn in 1901 as the beach’s first hotel — located at present-day 8th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard. At the time, oceanfront lots in the area sold for $25, and buyers who built a house there valued at $500 or higher received an additional lot, sparking additional development in the fledgling beach community.
Soon after New Town was incorporated in 1957, the local Horry Herald newspaper held a contest to give the beach town a new, official name. Burroughs’ widow suggested the name “Myrtle Beach,” which she chose because of the abundance of wax myrtle trees growing along the shoreline — and the rest is history.
Looking to explore some of the Grand Strand’s historic sites during your own Myrtle Beach getaway? Book your vacation at The Caribbean Resort & Villas today — and get ready for a getaway that will go down in your family history!