A Look into the Past: The Story of Little River

Welcome to the wonderful and sometimes turbulent history of Little River! Little River is a small town in the western part of South Carolina, and it’s an unincorporated community with a population of just over 9,692. The town has a rich and fascinating history, deeply entwined with the heritage of the local Horry County region.

Let’s take a closer look at the history of Little River, from its earliest beginnings to the present day. We’ll explore the key moments that defined the town and its development over time, as well as some interesting facts and trivia. So, let’s dive into the history of this charming little town!

The Founding and Early Days of Little River

What were the origins of Little River? How did it become what it is today? To answer these questions, we need to go back to the mid-1800s, when settlers began to arrive in what would become Little River.

The earliest settlers were mostly English, Scottish, and Irish immigrants who had traveled south from North Carolina in search of land and opportunity. By 1860, over 60 families had settled in the area and established a thriving agricultural community. They called their settlement “Little River” due to its proximity to the nearby Little Pee Dee River.

At this time, Little River was located in Marion County, part of the larger Horry County region. The arrival of settlers in these areas during this period saw an influx of new businesses and industries, including brick-making, carpentry, cotton ginning, blacksmithing, and sawmilling. This laid a strong foundation for the town's growth and development for many years.

In the 1600s and 1700s, settlers such as fishermen and farmers began inhabiting Little River, making it one of the earliest settlements in the state. President George Washington even stopped during his 1791 tour of South Carolina to dine with veteran James Cochran. The small, protected harbor in Little River was desirable for pirates, as evidenced by local lore that claims Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, and Anne Bonny all visited the region.

Little River Reaches its Peak

By the early 1900s, Little River had reached its peak in population and wealth. The town boasted two large mercantile stores, several mills, churches, schools, and other businesses. It was home to many prosperous farmers who grew rice and cotton on their land. 


The prosperity and growth of Little River continued until 1928, when disaster struck with the onset of the Great Depression. Over the next few years, many businesses in town closed down as people lost their jobs and savings. However, despite this setback, Little River managed to weather these difficult times relatively well its population remained relatively stable during this period. 

The Post-War Years

After World War II ended in 1945, there was renewed optimism in Little River as new businesses began to emerge and rebuild what had been lost during the Great Depression. The local economy again shifted towards agriculture, with rice being one of the major crops grown in Little River during this period. The late 40s and 50s also saw increased tourism, with people coming from all over the state to visit the historical sites near the town or simply enjoy some relaxation along its beautiful shores on Lake Robinson. 

For much of the post-war years through to the present day, Little River has been known primarily as a quiet residential community with a strong emphasis on preserving its rural character and natural beauty, which continues to attract both locals and visitors alike. 

Modern-Day Little River 

Today’s Little River is still a vibrant community thanks to its strong connections with agriculture and tourism. Many longtime residents own farming operations that produce corn and cotton alongside its signature rice crop. In contrast, other residents work for businesses involved in tourism, such as fishing charters, golf courses, marinas, and other related services. 

Little River has also become home to several new residential developments where people from all around come to settle down for good or simply enjoy some relaxing vacation time away from their day-to-day lives. 

Critical Moments in Little River's History 

Now that we have explored some key moments that have shaped Little River’s history so far, let’s take a closer look at some other important events that have taken place over time: 

The Civil War – Though Little River never became directly engaged in combat during the Civil War, there were still many significant events that occurred here during this period, such as General Sherman’s march through South Carolina, which ultimately led to the Union victory at Sea Island located near where present-day Myrtle Beach is located. 

The Hurricane Hugo Aftermath – In 1989, one of South Carolina’s strongest hurricanes hit land near Charleston, causing severe damage throughout much of South Carolina, including Horry County, where Little river is located. Fortunately, due to its inland location away from sea level, Little river only experienced minimal damage but was significantly impacted by power outages due to downed trees blocking roadways and impeding access for repair crews leading to weeks without power or running water for some residents of the little river as well as ongoing debris cleanup efforts that stretched on for months afterwards. 

The 21st Century – Since 2000 little river has seen further development with increasing amounts of commercial properties being built while many residential properties are being renovated or replaced by newer homes or condos along lake Robinson providing more chances for people wishing to visit or move here permanently.                                                                                                     


The town of Little River has a unique and long history which today's residents should be proud of. While the town has weathered a few storms, Little River still stands tall and is a testament to its past inhabitants' hard work and drive. Little River has come a long way from its small beginnings and will continue to evolve and grow as time goes on. Its story should be shared for years to come, and the legacy of those who called Little River home should always be remembered. Contact for more information.

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