How Myrtle Beach Got Its Name

By Marissa Polascak • September 02, 2015
The Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera) is common throughout South Carolina.
The Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera) is common throughout South Carolina.

There are names of cities and towns throughout the United States that can be found in more than one place. However, the name Myrtle Beach can only be found in South Carolina. Being a unique city name, many people often wonder where the name came from.

When I moved here and there were several crepe myrtle trees planted in my front yard, I figured that these beautiful trees were the reason for my new city’s name. However, I was, like many other people, mistaken about this.

Long ago, the Myrtle Beach area used to be known as Long Bay and New Town. In the 1700s, the Withers family owned quite a large amount of property in the area and thus what is now Myrtle Beach used to be called Withers. But in the late 1800s, the Burroughs and Collins Company of Conway bought a lot of the Withers’ land, thus leading to a city naming contest in the year 1900.

While many names were proposed for the area, the winning name was Myrtle Beach. But how exactly did it get this name? Addie Burroughs, widow of Franklin G. Burroughs from the Burroughs and Collins Company came up with the name Myrtle Beach inspired by a particular plant in the area: wax myrtle bushes.

The name Myrtle Beach has stuck since then. In 1938, Myrtle Beach officially became a town, but then, with its rapid growth, it became a city in 1957. To this day, Myrtle Beach is always expanding and each year we see a large influx of vacationers visiting our city, and more and more people deciding to make this beautiful place their new home.

Who knew that such a small thing could be the namesake of one of America’s favorite vacation destinations?