Crossing the state line from North Carolina into South Carolina on Hwy. 17, you find yourself in Little River, South Carolina, the farthest northeast community in the farthest northeast county in the state. Little River is the oldest village in Horry County dating back to the early 18th century. This unincorporated town is loosely bordered on the east by the Intracoastal Waterway, on the south by Hwy. 9, on the west by the Waccamaw River, and the north by the state line.
In the late 1600's and the early 1700's fishermen and farmers settled along a stream called "Little River" which emptied into an inlet before going to the ocean. This inlet provided a sheltered port, attractive to pirates and smugglers. Legend has it that pirates such as William Kidd, Edward (Blackbeard) Teach, and Anne Bonney visited the area. The early settlers lived on the bounty of the sea and the surrounding pine forests that provided lumber and naval stores. These products were sent out of the port to northern markets, since there was very little contact with the inland part of the country.
In 1791, president George Washington visited the South Carolina coast on his southern tour. He passed through Little River and had lunch with Revolutionary War veteran James Cochran. He spent the night nearby with local resident Jeremiah Vereen, an ancestor of the donor of the Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens.
On Tilghman Point in Little River Neck, which is across the river from the port of Little River, there are the remains of a Confederate battery that defended the entrance to Little River Harbor. It was called Fort Randall and was captured in 1863 by a Yankee naval landing party commanded by Lt. William B. Cushing. The Confederates counter attacked and drove the invaders out.
While the Civil War brought a halt to the industries of lumber and naval stores, local salt works became important to the Confederate forces. These, however, were eventually destroyed by Union troops.
In 1906, Thomas Philip Hammer leased an eight-acre tract of land on the north side of Little River Neck from Louis Randall and his wife, Lillian Bessent Randall. This was the site the Hammer Lumber Company. In its heyday, the Company employed fifty men before shutting down operations in the 1920's Barges and gasoline boats transported the workers over the mill. The men thought they were rich – they made a $1.00 a day. Some accounts claim this site was part of the area where 9,000 Revolutionary War soldiers, including the legendary Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, camped during 1776.
Toward the end of the 19th century, the pine forests had been largely depleted. Road building in the area was very slow. An early unpaved road from Loris to Little River later became Route 9. Highway 17 was not paved until 1941. The Intracoastal Waterway (running from Maine to Florida) was completed in 1936, absorbing the original "Little River".
During the prohibition years the sheltered port at Little River offered the same protection to bootleggers as it had to pirates. Today Little River is a center for sports fishing with numerous boats for hire. It continues to grow today attracting golfers, fishermen, boaters, and retirees, always with the lure of its beauty and its historic background.
PDF Driving Tour Map
JPG Driving Tour Map
* The homes featured on driving tour maps are privately owned and should be viewed from public sidewalks.
Jerimiah Vereen House, c. 1900's
Private residence, Highway 179 after Mullet Creek on the border of North Carolina. The Vereen family was one of the first to settle in the Little River area. The Jeremiah Vereen house is located just south of the state line.
Essie & Copeland Lewis House, c. 1940's
Private residence. Fronting on Highway 17 beside Greystone Boulevard. Another early family.
Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens
Highway 179 to Calabash – A 114 acre tract of woodlands and salt marsh one mile south of the South Carolina State line from Calabash, North Carolina, the beautiful Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens extends more than 1,000 feet in width, from U.S. 17 to the Little River and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Vereen Gardens is a small portion of a 400 acre plantation that has been in the Vereen family since the early 1800s. The land donor was Jackson Hiram "Jack" Vereen of Madarin, Florida, who was born in Little River in 1882, the son of Hartford Jennings Vereen and the former Florence C. Frink of Brunswick County, N.C. In 1972, Jack Vereen deeded the property to the Horry County Historical Commission. The Gardens include the historic Vereen Family Cemetery, which features Revolutionary war graves. The Vereens were instrumental in having the old family cemetery restored in the late 1950's.
The Vereen Gardens also includes the Kings Highway which was a part of the Atlantic Coastal Transportation system, in place, at least from the time of the earliest white settlement in the American colonies. It is said to have been traveled by Lafayette in 1777 and Washington in 1791. It is one of the few stretches of the Kings Highway to retain its unpaved original appearance.
A portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway runs through Horry County from the NC/SC state line to the Waccamaw River for approximately 30 miles. Starting at the north end, the first 5 miles of this section includes the historic "Little River", then starts a 24 miel cut made by the U.S. Corps of Engineers down the Enterprise Landing where it meets the Waccamaw River. This 90 foot wide and 12 foot deep cut is the longest man-made ditch in the entire length of the Atlantic Waterway. It was opened in 1936, adding a much needed dimension to the transportation of the area since roads were very slow to be developed and paved. Today, however, it is used primarily for local recreation craft as a protected means of transporting larger craft back and forth between the north and the south.
South Carolina Welcome Center
Highway 17 – Rest stop on right going south.
Robert Livingston House
Constructed c. 1848 – 4441 Lakeside Drive – The Robert Livingston house was built circa 1848. It was moved in 1973 to its current location on Lakeside Drive. This house is one of two identical houses constructed in Southport, North Carolina by the same builder. It is distinguished by a steeply pitched roof with an elaborate sunburst pattern tucked under the gable. Gingerbread shakes cover the second story walls, with the lower floor being of wood clapboard siding. In the 1880's Robert Livingston was the Postmaster and census enumerator for Little River.
Constructed c. 1937 – 4490 Waterfront Drive – In 1937, Luther Wilson built the Riverside Tavern. During that period, Vance and Helen Kinlaw opened the Tavern where they sold ice, drinks, fishing supplies, and basic groceries primarily to local fishermen. Fishing parties were also booked here aboard the "Helen Jean" and "Johnnie Jr." charter fishing boats owned by Mr. Luther Wilson, father of Helen Kinlaw. The Kinlaws also rented bateaus, flat bottom boats with tapered ends.
James Ellis Sr. House
Constructed c. 1910 – 4338 Ellis Avenue – This house was constructed in 1910 for James Ellis, Sr. who worked for the Hammer Lumber Company. The frame house is wrapped by a porch with turned posts and balusters. The porch is capped by gables with gingerbread barge boards. The house has remained unchanged except for the synthetic siding which was added in 1984.
First Methodist Church Parsonage, c. 1912
Private residence – 4333 Ellis Avenue – Built by Baxter Baldwin in 1912. Used as the Methodist parsonage until 1954 when it was sold to the Bessent family.
Parson's Table Restaurant, c. 1885
4305 McCorsley Drive – The Parson's Table Restaurant, formerly the Little River Methodist Church, is now an award winning restaurant. The original Church was built in 1885 by H.J. Vereen, Sr., Robert Livingston and Dr. R.G. Sloan. Over the years the little building grew and eventually became a community center when the new church was built in 1952. Its next stage of evolution was to become a restaurant. The main dining room shows the original hand hewn heart pine floors, and original clapboard pine siding covers the exterior walls. The stained glass windows in the dining rooms along with the large chandelier were originally in the Baptist Church of Mullins, South Carolina. The beveled glass over the doorway into the dining room came from the White Mansion in Lumberton, North Carolina.
Toby's Old World
Constructed c. 1913 – 1530 Highway 17 – Toby's Old World was built in 1913 for Tommy Ellis, Senator Ralph Ellis's brother. Toby's originally was a cash store where everything from caskets to piece goods was sold. There was a Post Office located in the back section of the store.
Jasper's Café (formerly Down Under)
Constructed c. 1910 – 4310 McCorsley Dr. – (Formerly Down Under) – This quaint café was originally the McCorsely General Store built in 1910. It was originally located beside Clarence and Essie McCorsely's home (see Brentwood Restaurant) and was used as a merchandise and piece goods store in the 1900's.
Little River United Methodist Church Cemetery, c. 1800's
Highway 17 – Members of many early families buried here.
The Brentwood Restaurant, c. 1910
4269 Luck Drive – The Brentwood Restaurant, originally Essie McCorsley's house, was built in 1910. It was moved to its current location on the corner of Luck and Mulberry streets in Little River. The Brentwood Restaurant capitalizes on the elegant proportions of the house. The two-story house exhibits many characteristics of the Queen Anne style, features a wraparound porch distinguished by oar-shaped beams, hipped roof, gables and corbelled chimneys. There are three-sided bays at the front and east sides of the building.
Gore & McLamb Cemetery, c. 1820's
Bay Drive (private drive) – A Revolutionary war veteran is buried in the Gore Cemetery. Members of early families are buried in the McLamb Cemetery.
St. Paul's A.M.E. Church, c. 1874
Corner of Highway 17 and Horseshoe Road – The St. Paul's A.M.E. Church was originally known as the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The original building no longer exists. The second building was a plank structure erected in 1926 and the Educational Building was built in 1955.
Cedar Creek Cemetery, c. 1740
Hope Lane Road - Cedar Creek Cemetery is located at the end of Hope Lane Road, just north of Nixon's Crossroads, between Hwy. 90 and the north bound lane of Hwy. 17. This is the site of the Little River Methodist Church, one of the earliest documented churches in the area. Originally, there was a pre-Revolutionary War Meeting House at the cemetery's location. On January 1, 1740, a New Year's dancing party was broken at the meeting house by Rev. George Whitefield, a famous Methodist evangelist.
The forerunner of the Little River Methodist Church was the Cedar Creek Church which ceased to function about 1920. Buried in the cemetery are members of many prominent families of the area including Bryan, Bessent, Randall, Bellamy, Dunn, Gore, Ward, Willard, Lewis, Morse, Watson, Williams, Nixon, Permenter, and Peurefoy.
R.W. Woods General Store, c. 1960
4275 Sea Mountain Highway – Numerous residents in the community, as well as visitors, have used this general merchandise store throughout the years. For a very long time, this store was the only one in the area.
Little River Swing Bridge
Construction began March 10, 1934 – Sea Mountain Highway – In 1936, the Little River Swing Bridge opened to boat traffic on the new Intracoastal Waterway. Highly prized by local residents, the 272-foot steel moving span, built by Bethlehem Fabricators, Inc. of Pennsylvania, was among the first across the nation to use a massive single pivot-wheel technology. Today it is among the last remaining of its kind. Repair parts have to be custom made to fix the bridge when damage occurs.
During its 65 years of history it has played a vital role in the romance of water transportation to Grand Strand beach-bound vacationers, including thousands of automobiles, RVs, and water crafts from luxury yachts to tug boats. At peak tourist travel months it opens to as many as 2000 boats a month. An average of 10,000 cars a day cross the bridge.
For many years it was an essential link of U.S. Route 17 from Maine to Florida. How designated as S 20, it is located at the Nixon's Crossroads area near the new, higher Intracoastal Waterway bridge. It feeds into South Carolina Highway 9.
Frink's Public Park, c. 1734
Little River Neck Road – Frink's Public Park is located off of Little River Neck Road, (one-quarter mile past the entrance to the Tidewater Golf Club) on the corner of Harrelson Avenue. and Channel Pointe Lane. This Horry County Park honors the Frink family, early settlers of the "The Neck." The first member of the family settled here was Nicholas Frink who had received a land grant in 1734. His son, Jabesh, fought and was wounded in the Revolutionary War. Frink descendants still live in the area, members of the Cox, Long, Lewis, and Hickman, among other families.
C. 1861-1865 - Private residences. Remains of a Confederate battery that defended the entrance to Little River Harbor.