The Socastee Intracoastal Waterway Swing Bridge opened in 1936 to supply
an east-west route from the Horry County seat of inland Conway to the developing seashore resort
of Myrtle Beach. It is located on Secondary Road 616 (formerly a portion of S.C. Hwy. 544) and
crosses the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Warren through-truss bridge with rigid joints
measures 217 feet in length and about 24 feet wide. There are two accounts as to who built the
bridge. A 1936 account says it is the Tidewater Construction Corporation, while a 1981 South
Carolina Highway Department survey says the bridge bears a plaque stating the bridge was built
by the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company. It was completed in 1935.
Metal works beneath the bridge have to be greased by hand. Local historians report that
in the early years, the bridge had to be turned by hand. Local citizens, who highly prize the
bridge, fought to preserve it for local transportation, as well as a vital part of the historic
community. It underwent extensive renovations in 2003. Changes over the years included a new
gatekeeper's house on top of the bridge. The bridge is operated 24 hours a day to allow passage
of north-south boat traffic. An average of 40 boats a day, including all types of craft from
luxury crafts to tug boats, navigate this bridge opening. Although approximately 17,500 vehicles
a day cross the bridge, the newer high-rise, stationary Thrailkill Bridge located a short distance
away bears the brunt of the heavier traffic load.
The community of Socastee predates the internationally famous coastal resort Myrtle Beach
by many years. The Socastee Bridge paved the way for the tremendous growth of the vacation metropolis.