City of Georgetown, on South Carolina’s “Grand Strand,” known as the “ghost capital of the South.”
A TV news reporter once referred to Georgetown County, South Carolina as the “ghost capital of the South.” This was no exaggeration, for over one hundred ghosts are rumored to haunt this coastal region. While many local residents scoff at the existence of such ghosts, others readily tell the well-known tales of local hauntings and paranormal phenomena.
Why are there so many ghosts here? Some say the sudden and often violent deaths associated with ocean life could be a cause. Others think that only individuals with strong personalities become ghosts, and Georgetown’s powerful plantation families certainly fit the bill. Or perhaps it’s the region’s strong link with the past that fascinates us, and makes us think we hear those noises coming from the moonlit beaches.
Georgetown itself is located at the end of a fifty-five-mile stretch of beach known as “The Grand Strand.” The hub of the Strand is Myrtle Beach, one of the nation’s largest and most popular tourist attractions. But the historic Georgetown area is a world away from the amusement parks, shopping malls and packed beaches of its noisy neighbor to the north.
Several Native American tribes settled around what was to become Georgetown long before the Europeans arrived. Many local sites still bear Native American names, and burial mounds have been discovered along the nearby Waccamaw River.
In 1526, the original Spanish settlers tried to establish a colony at the head of Winyah Bay where Georgetown now stands, but were driven out by disease. It wasn’t until 1729 that the City of Georgetown was founded by a Baptist minister, and quickly became a commercial center for the South Carolina low country. Its strategic location on deep Winyah Bay at the convergence of four large shipping rivers soon made it a major port city. Giant ships from Europe traded goods in Georgetown’s port during Colonial times.
After the Revolutionary War, Georgetown’s economy boomed due to the rise of rice as a major export. Rice plantations sprung up along the rivers leading into Georgetown. The winding, swampy river land was perfect for rice cultivation, and a rich plantation culture soon emerged comparable to the plantation culture in neighboring Charleston.
But river life also brought extreme heat and disease, and many plantation families had to literally flee for their lives when summer arrived. They were especially frightened of “country fever” (as malaria was then known) spread by the mosquitoes that infested the marshes. They soon built second homes on nearby beaches and islands, and wouldn’t return to their plantations until the first hard frost in November.
Many plantation families lost their fortunes after the Civil War, and the rice industry disappeared. Since then, the paper and steel industries have moved in, and tourism has fueled the local economy.
You can help keep the stories coming by making a donation to The Moonlit Road.com. Large or small, any amount helps!