Robert Carter

Robert Carter Sr. at age 85

Traffic on S.C. 90 has gotten so bad due to new housing developments that Horry County Council plans to spend millions of dollars to upgrade the highway.

The late Robert Carter Sr. recalled a time when the 18-mile trip from Longs to Conway took six hours!

Carter made his first trip to Conway at age 12 in the late 1890s when he accompanied his father to pay taxes. They left at 4 a.m. in the morning and the horse and buggy ride didn’t conclude until 10 a.m.

The county courthouse was where Conway City Hall sits.

“We went to pay the taxes on the bottom floor of the present City Hall. The courthouse was on the top floor at the time,” said Carter.

He recalled Bill Lewis ran a general store at the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street. Across from the general store was a pharmacy run by Dr. James Norton. On the corner to the left of it was a flattop store run by Charlie Abrams where customers could buy candy, crackers and milkshakes.

Third Avenue was mainly a collection of wooden buildings. Basil King operated the Bargain House between Main Street and Laurel Street. The post office was directly opposite the Bargain House.

(Most of these buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1897.)

In addition to these “downtown” stores was the Gully store on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Beaty Street which housed the beginnings of the Burroughs and Collins Company.

The county jail on Main Street was still standing when Carter visited Conway.

“Three hangings took place there that I can remember,” said Carter. “I saw the ‘Hanging Room’ as a boy. A heavy rope hung from the ceiling. There was a platform on the floor held by hinges where the criminal stood at the time of the hanging.”

No streets in Conway were paved during Carter’s childhood.

“The only hard surface to be found in the downtown was a walkway made of boards lying side by side. They were usually wide enough so that two people could pass,” recalled Carter.

When still a young man, Carter was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives. He said he walked 18 miles to Conway to get on the train to Columbia. The train ride took a day and a half.

“I stayed in Columbia the whole 40 days of the session,” said Carter. “I couldn’t afford to come home because the salary was only $200 a year. My family and I just wrote cards and letters back and forth.”

Around 1928, Carter took his first ride to Columbia in an automobile.

“It was a model T owned by Will Prince, the representative from Loris.

“At the time people with teams didn’t appreciate automobiles because the horses were afraid of them,” recalled Carter.

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