Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What is a Myrtle?

The Boardwalk at Myrtle Beach
Having just been to Myrtle Beach for a long-awaited getaway, we pondered this question as we strolled the new boardwalk which opened in May 2010.  Just what is a Myrtle, my hubby asked?  I thought maybe it was named after a woman.  If you ask people how Myrtle Beach got its name, you get a variety of answers from the Indians to someone's daughter.  All are good guesses.  The area has had many names over its history.  When the Waccamaw Indians inhabited the land, it was known as Long Bay.  You may recognize the name Waccamaw from the river and pottery named for it.  It was later known as Withers for a family who had had property there since the 1700s.  There was even a post office named for them.

In 1881 the Burroughs and Collins Company of Conway purchased much of the land long held by the Withers family and Withers was now called New Town.  As you can see there have been many changes and many names as is often the case with developing lands.

Getting to the story behind the current name, in 1900 a contest was held to choose an official name for their town.*   Credit is given to Addie Burroughs who suggested the name Myrtle Beach, named for the abundant growth of the Wax Myrtle bushes.  

Image Attribution: Mary Keim
The Wax Myrtle is a North American native, and is a small tree or large shrub depending on it's environment.  It is often found in landscaping, especially around the beaches but is also used in candle making, as well as having medicinal uses.

And that is how Myrtle Beach got it's name.
*Myrtle Beach officially became a town in 1938, then a city in 1957.


  1. Ah.. I was thinking maybe Crepe Myrtle.

  2. I spent a 4th of July weekend at Myrtle Beach. I was swimming in the ocean when a 35ft. Tiger Shark attacked me and scratched my arm.

    I threw an elbow like I was playing Ice Hockey and it left.

    I think it was a 35ft. Tiger Shark although I didn't actually see it.

    A Giant Octopus wouldn't do that, would it?

  3. Just as Hilary said, I thought it was going to be Crepe Myrtles. When I lived in Texas I had Wax Myrtles in my yard. They really can be quite pretty but they won't grow in Kansas.

  4. Hi Linda .. I thought after the plant .. I've no idea what crepe myrtle is .. but I see it's a genus ..

    Looks like a lovely place for a break away from the madness of Black Friday - Happy Thanksgiving - Hilary

  5. Hilary- That I'd heard of...but never heard of Wax Myrtle.

    Timothy- No, I don't think a giant octopus would do that, but it wouldn't be pleasant.

    Cheryl- I'll have to look for them next time I'm at the beach.

    Hilary- It appears that there are Crepe Myrtles and Wax Myrtles. Maybe related?


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