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Do you know the history of the Carolina Bays in Myrtle Beach?

JUNE 6, 2023

These oval lakes or ponds are Carolina Bays, first discovered in 1930, when aerial photography came to the Myrtle Beach area. As part of a Depression-era program to assist farmers through aerial photography, geologists F. A. Melton and William Schriever first observed and photographed the bays from the air. In 1932, they shared their findings with the scientific community. The top photo is from the 1933 Harper’s Magazine, which published photos of the bays in an article titled, “The Comet that Hit the Carolinas.”
The Carolina Bays are tens of thousands of shallow, oval depressions ranging in size from 200 feet to seven miles (Lake Waccamaw), all oriented in a generally northeast to southwest direction. Most have an elevated sandy rim more prominent on the southeastern edge.

Carolina Bays heavily dot southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina, but can be found scattered along the mid-Atlantic seaboard. Similar oval depressions also have been found in Alaska. The exact origin of the bays is unknown and the subject of much discussion. Melton and Schriever proposed the predominant theory, then and now, that they were formed by a meteor or comet that broke up upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The bottom photo shows the intersection of SC 22 and SC 31 (Veterans Highway and Carolina Bays Parkway).

Carolina Bays still dot the landscape. Visit to see the original aerial photos that revealed the bays. Then visit for more recent photos. By the way, the Carolina Bays also are home to the federally-protected Venus flytrap and other rare species.