The Names Behind the Bridges

October 2022
Written By: 
Harold Rohrback
Photographs by: 
Harold Rohrback

Fascinating stories of Grand Strand dedications

A unique bridge dedicated to a unique individual and local legend in the fishing and boating world for decades. 

The Grand Strand boasts the Atlantic Ocean to our east and the Intracoastal Waterway to our west, with inlets at either end. In between are an eclectic array of bridges unique in style and design. The stories of the people whose names they honor are as diverse as the boats that travel beneath them.

Entering the Grand Strand at the northern end takes you across one of the oldest and most quaint bridges in the region. The Little River Swing Bridge was constructed in 1935 and still operates much the same as it did almost 90 years ago. The bridge is as unique as the person whose name it displays. The name on the bridge says, “Captain Archie Neil ‘Poo’ McLauchlin, “ but most people just know him as Poo.

He was born the same year as the bridge was constructed and has been a local legend in the fishing and boating world for decades. His locally held king mackerel tournaments in the 1960s and ’70s attracted fishermen from around the country, especially some of the top NASCAR drivers of the time. For many years, Poo was the captain of Dale Earnhardt’s tournament fishing boat, as well as a good friend.

The bridge architecture varies from quaint to superstructure.

The waterfront bar that bore his name has changed hands several times over the years, but locals still know it as “Poo’s.” There were many dignitaries and politicians at the dedication ceremony eight years ago, including State Representative Greg Duckworth, who initially introduced the House Bill for approval. Captain Patrick Kelly spent three years as first mate for Poo, cruising a 74-foot private yacht to and from the Bahamas.

“Poo has nothing bad to say about anybody and nobody has a bad thing to say about him,” Kelly says.

Just down the road is the Robert Edge Parkway, which turns into Main Street in North Myrtle Beach. Its bridge crossing over the Intracoastal is dedicated to “J Bryan Floyd.” Born in Loris, Floyd attended Wofford College on a football scholarship and then came back home to manage Hoskins restaurant in North Myrtle Beach (NMB). His love for the city led him to serve 22 years on the NMB City Council, including six as mayor. During that time in office, he spearheaded the building of the Community Center on Possum Trot Road and the Library on 2nd Ave. North. He was a member of many clubs and benevolent societies, as well as a little league football coach. He and his partners then built Robbers Roost, Possum Trot, and Bay Tree golf courses to help lure the winter golfers further up the Strand. He was awarded the highest civilian honor in the state, The Order of Palmetto, by Governor Jim Hodges.

The bridge on Highway 22 was once dubbed “The bridge to nowhere” due to it being the first leg of what would eventually become a major thoroughfare for traffic entering Myrtle Beach. The forward-thinking proponent of this stretch of highway was William H. (Billy) Alford, to whom the bridge is dedicated. Alford was a graduate of Coastal Carolina University (CCU) and worked tirelessly as Chairman of the Horry County Education Commission to establish CCU as an independent institution in 1993. While attending CCU, he co-founded A & I Fire and Restoration Company, which has been serving citizens in times of need since 1974. His ability to see and address the future highway needs of a rapidly growing area, as well as his dedication to the community, earned him the Order of Palmetto in 2001.

Dedications range from the heroic to exemplary community service, such as the one for Myrtle Beach Police Officer Jacob Hancher, who was killed in the line of duty. 

Grissom Parkway has become one of the busiest roads in the area, its bridge named for a tireless promoter of Myrtle Beach, Zeb M. Thomas Sr. After serving in World War II, Thomas entered the motel business with the Dayton House Motel, which has been a family business since 1960. He was an active member of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and served several terms as president in the ’60s and ‘70s. He also served as president of the Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association, as well as many other organizations promoting Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand, as far away as Canada. He received The Order of Palmetto in 1995.

On August 5, 2022, the overpass on Harrelson Boulevard was dedicated to Myrtle Beach Police Officer Jacob Hancher, who was killed in the line of duty. On Oct. 3, 2020, Officer Hancher was on patrol when he responded to a domestic dispute call, where he was ambushed and there was an exchange of gunfire. Even after being shot multiple times, Hancher continued returning fire from the ground. Hancher was known for his ever-present smile, positive attitude, and love for people.

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock says, “He was a dedicated public servant who upheld his oath to protect this community and made the ultimate sacrifice. He cared about the people he served, served with, and absolutely loved Myrtle Beach.”

(Far Right) Zeb M. Thomas Sr. served in World War II and was an active member of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and many other organizations promoting Myrtle Beach.

On Dec. 24, 1944, the cargo ship SS Leopoldville was crossing the English Channel carrying 2,223 troops from various nations as reinforcements for the Battle of the Bulge. When the ship reached 5 miles from shore, it was hit with two torpedoes from a German U Boat. It took several hours to sink, but 12-foot seas hindered the rescue efforts. There were 763 casualties that day, but the number could have been higher if not for the courageous efforts of soldiers like Captain Benjamin Thrailkill Jr. for whom the Highway 544 bridge is dedicated. Thrailkill received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal for his bravery. He then attended Clemson University and the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry. He was a dentist in Surfside Beach until 1982, the same year he received the Order of Palmetto and was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served until 1988.

The latest addition to Highway 31 includes a towering bridge spanning the Intracoastal Waterway. The bridge was dedicated May 4, 2011, to Colonel Howard Darst Barnard III. Barnard was a Vietnam Veteran who was later assigned to the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, where he served four years as commander of the 356th Fighter Squadron. He was also a commander during Operation Desert Storm. During his career he, received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 13 Air Medals. Barnard served on the Horry County Council 2003 to 2010 and was instrumental in securing funding for highway construction to meet the increasing needs of the area.

As diverse as these individuals are, they all share the same desire to make the Grand Strand a great place to live and vacation.