Horry County (population 226,992 year-round residents) is on the east coast of South Carolina and attracts millions of visitors annually to its resorts and beaches. The Waccamaw River, which transverses the county, is an important transportation lifeline and enabled rice production as well as the turpentine and logging industries.
The largest county in the state, Horry (pronounced Oh-ree) boasts both natural beauty and noteworthy history. Human habitation here spans thousands of years, from Chicora Indian sites, to a Spanish settlement in 1526, and British settlement in the 1600s. Founded in 1801, Horry County was at that time a small, secluded community of 550, named in honor of Revolutionary War Brigadier General Peter Horry.
The Little River area is the oldest village in Horry County, dating back to the early 18th century. In 1791, President George Washington visited the South Carolina coast on his southern tour. He passed through Little River and spent the night at the residence of James Vereen, an ancestor of the donor of the Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens, a current attraction.
Surrounded by swamps, rivers, and the ocean, this area was referred to as the “Independent Republic” due to its geographic isolation. That isolation came to an end with the arrival of the railroad in late 1887. Many visitors came to Horry County beginning in the early 1900s, but a construction boom in the 1970s and 1980s transformed this quaint rural community into the major tourist destination it is today. The county’s primarily agrarian land coexists with Myrtle Beach, an internationally famous vacation destination in the midst of the coastal Grand Strand beaches.
Horry County is currently involved in a historic property survey and is the only county in South Carolina recognized as a Certified Local Government. The Socastee National Historic District, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, is a rare remaining intact example of a post-Civil War development. Driving tour guide materials are available for both the Socastee and the Little River areas, as well as for the county as a whole, and other driving tours are in development. An annual two-day quilt show at the Horry County Museum and the old County Courthouse in Conway shares one aspect of local culture with the public.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2007.