I discovered historic downtown Conway, SC, by happenstance while on my way to Myrtle Beach for the production of our first Christmas special. On that day I was the guest for the morning show on 93.9 FM WCRE in Cheraw. When I left the studio I put the Myrtle Beach address in my GPS. Based on the displayed ETA, the drive time was about two and a half hours; this would give me plenty of time to arrive and check into our hotel before evening activities.
About midway through the drive I realized I was seeing places and things I had never seen before. For me, this is always exciting and I was stopping more than I had planned, and before long I became aware that time was slipping away. I knew if I were not careful, I would go from having plenty of time to being late, so I got back on the road.
I soon found myself in the midst of a picturesque Southern town with charming buildings reminiscent of times before strip malls and by-passes, times when the town center was the heart of commerce, shopping, dining and entertainment.
It was late afternoon, Christmas music filled the air and the streets and storefronts were decorated, thus intensifying the feeling of being in a special place. This was a part of Conway that I had never seen before. I guess I was like the millions of other people who only knew the Conway by-pass, which, like most by-passes, has no sense of history.
From downtown I crossed the Waccamaw River and continued to Myrtle Beach. When I arrived at the hotel, I asked the front desk staff what they could tell me about Conway. I collected some information and contact names and went on with the evening's events.
It would be some months before I could make it back to Conway, but when I did, my first stop was the Chamber of Commerce. I learned about the historic Live Oaks that some call the oldest citizens in town. It is said that some of the trees predate the founding of America.
I was given the name of Larry Biddle as a champion for all things Conway. I called Larry and asked if we could meet. He agreed and we met that afternoon and I was given the grand tour of Conway as it is today and a lesson on the founding of Conway and much of its colorful history.
While I had gone fishing in the black waters of the Waccamaw River, I did not know that the river was the highway for the Waccamaw Indians who were in the area prior to the founding of America.
The Waccamaw was also the water way that a young Englishman traveled while charting the Royal Governor, Robert Johnson's Township Plan. The King's Town was formed in 1732 and the name was shortened to Kingston before finally becoming Conway.
I enjoyed discovering this part of our history while strolling on the meandering boardwalk along the banks of the Waccamaw. This is also when I noticed the beauty of spring time in Conway. The tender green color of new leaves on the trees that border the Waccamaw River looked fresh and alive. From certain views, the moss draped ancient Live Oaks and large azaleas were spectacular.
There are many more stories for me to share about historic Conway and her people, this one is about how I first discovered this charming Southern town and the beauty she displays in spring time.