The Highway 501 Business bridge over Conway will close next month as the South Carolina Department of Transportation looks to repair the aging structure. But when it opened in the late 1930s, the bridge was described as “modern” and exciting to the residents of a much different Horry County.
The bridge over the Waccamaw River will be closing for repairs, according to SCDOT. The government agency said on its website the stretch of road between the start of the bridge in downtown Conway to Highway 90 will be closed from Jan. 7, 2019 to March 31, 2019.
Drivers will be still be able to enter and exit Highway 90 onto 501 Business Southbound. The nature of the SCDOT project is to repair the 80-year-old bridge.
“The purpose of this project is to increase the life span of the existing structure,” according the SCDOT website.
And the bridge already has had a long life.
According to a newspaper article from The Field, a Conway newspaper operating in the 1930s, the bridge was completed in April 1938. The article said thousands went out to see the “modern bridge across the Waccamaw” open. According to the article, Dottie Gene Buck cut the ribbon to officially open the bridge.
A historical photo of the bridge and The Field’s edition were provided to The Sun News by the Horry County Museum in Downtown Conway.
At the bottom of The Field edition, the newspaper said the bridge was to honor Horry County’s armed servicemen, including those who then recently served in World War I.
Former S.C. Highway Patrolman Elbert Long led the procession across the bridge for the first time.
Photos from the opening ceremony show the bridge looking a lot like it does today, streetlights lining it just like they do today. Then there was just a lot less cars and a lot less traffic using the road on a daily basis.
Then Highway Commissioner Ben Sawyer said the bridge was a marvel, showing how far human engineering can go.
“Today, to me, the strangest thing is to see Horry County celebrating the accomplishments of the State Highway Department,” Sawyer said, according to Field reports.