Located on the south end of the Grand Strand, Murrells Inlet has one of the richest histories in South Carolina. As one of the oldest coastal communities, it was founded in 1731 by English colonist John Morrall. The inlet was right in the center of South Carolina’s rice empire and it became a bustling port for shipping out rice, indigo, turpentine, cotton, and peanuts to ports in Britain and the northern colonies.
During the colonial era, the little inlet’s history gets even more interesting as it was thought to be a popular place for visiting pirates-including Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet. They were said to have stopped by on occasion for freshwater and ship cleaning. This area was also thought to be an escape from malaria where people believed the Atlantic breezes would clear out the illness.
During the Civil War, Murrells Inlet was attacked on multiple occasions due to their secret shipping routes to buyers in Britain and the North. After being blockaded, local blockade runners deceived patrolling warships and escaped around them. In 1863, six warships were sent to destroy the inlet, but they defended themselves with only one ship, setting fire to the other ships in the harbor.
As the war ended, and slavery was abolished, the plantation industry fell off. The inlet was no longer used for shipping and began to fall into ruin. In 1894, President Cleveland made a publicized trip to the inlet to duck hunt. Following that, northern business owners began purchasing property in the area. Into the early 20th century, the area became the modern resort spot it is today as people began traveling for leisure-enjoying the oyster roasts and steamboat rides that this small southern town had to offer.
If you haven’t been to the inlet, maybe it’s time to take a trip! Enjoy the historic waterfronts and maybe even check out a ghost tour for more of its rich history.
To learn more about the history of Murrells Inlet, visit The History of the Marshwalk
– By Olivia Dimatteo, a blog contributor for Garden City Realty