It is believed that the area was originally owned by John M. Tillman is known as “The Ark Plantation”. While no formal deeds ever established a specific beginning date, there is a record of the plantation in the Robert Mills Atlas of 1820 and in an 1838 map from an Horry County survey. The 3,200-acre plantations’ main crops were sweet potatoes and rice. After Tillman’s death in 1865, his family divided up the land and developed it in sections. In 1952 the entire area was sold and the name Surfside Beach was established.
In 1954 Hurricane Hazel hit Surfside Beach, destroying 18 of the 65 houses built on the beach. The community was not discouraged, and took it as an opportunity to grow the area. T. J. Harrison, Surfside Beach’s first mayor, opened the first grocery store in the community. Two years later, the Myrtle Beach Air Force base was reopened in 1956, creating momentum for development. By the mid 1960’s, Surfside Beach had made a name for itself as a family oriented beach for both vacationers and locals. This community has only been growing and expanding ever since, and has become one of the most popular vacation destinations in all of the Grand Strand.
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