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    Myrtle Beach Treasure Hunting

    The Keller Williams The Trembley Group Realtors love living in Myrtle Beach. Some are Myrtle Beach natives, but most, like the majority of Myrtle Beach residents, come from all over North America. They come from across the globe. They’re passionate about the Grand Strand, and they are Realtors because they like sharing their passion for the area with their clients. They’ve discovered treasure in Myrtle Beach and want to share their treasure with new-found friends.

    Treasure can have almost as many definitions as there are Myrtle Beach residents. For some, it means Brookgreen Gardens. For others, it means the area’s beautiful state parks, Huntington Beach State Park, and Myrtle Beach State Park. Some area residents like the simple treasures of finding shark’s teeth and shells at low tide. Still, others love looking for retail treasures in all of the Grand Strand’s shopping opportunities – from the wonderful outlet malls to the upscale shopping to be found in Keller Williams The Trembley Group’s home of The Market Common.

    Keller Williams The Trembley Group Real Estate clients have found a treasure in the real estate value to be found in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand. Whether it’s some of the state’s best schools or the beautiful climate or picture-perfect homes sitting on the East Coast’s most beautiful beaches, there’s a lot of real estate treasure to be found along the Grand Strand.

    But some Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand treasure hunters still prefer traditional treasure and periodically the Atlantic Ocean offshore gives up its gold.

    Kehl Carter, of Murrells Inlet, dived the shipwreck of the North Carolina for years before he even knew what it was. A salvage operation hired Carter as a diver in the mid-1990s. While scouring the bottom, his hand came across a gold coin in the silt.

    “I held it up in the water. I swam to the other divers to show them. That’s how excited I was,” Carter told Charleston’s Post and Courier.

    And the more that was learned of Kehl’s coin, the more exciting it became. Its 1838 date came with a “C” prefix. It was one of only 700 minted in Charlotte, N.C., from gold mined nearby in the Uwharrie Mountains located between Charlotte and Winston-Salem. The “C” prefix was so rare that the coin would later sell for $80,000. Those earlier salvagers came back with at least 18 coins and two gold watches.

    The North Carolina was a side-wheeled steam vessel, a ship that carried mail and was owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt, at the time, the world’s richest man. The ship was on its way from Wilmington, N.C., to Charleston in July 1840 with about 25 people aboard, including congress members and their families returning from a session in Washington, D.C.

    It collided with the Governor Dudley about 21 miles off Murrells Inlet and sank.

    Down to the bottom went what was reported to be a large amount of gold. Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gold coins and other artifacts were scavenged from the site about 20 years ago. Last month, a second treasure hunting dive team, the Florida-based Blue Water Adventures, went looking for more.

    The company recently published photos of a coin on its Facebook page but has said little publicly about the salvage work.

    The piece, a $10 gold piece “is pristine Mint State condition and the finest known example. The unbroken pedigree also adds considerably to its desirability,” Jeff Garrett, of Mid-American Rare Coin Gallery, told The Post and Courier of Charleston. “The coin will become the centerpiece of an advanced collection of U.S. gold coins.”

    The North Carolina wreck site isn’t exactly a secret. Today, divers report most of the wood has been eaten away by worms. But cast-iron axles, sheet metal, pipes, as well as the brass and bronze spikes that held it together lie scattered in the silt on the seafloor.

    Carter showed the Blue Water salvage team where to dive. The coins they found are from that site, he said.

    The Treasure

    The North Carolina is the stuff of legend.

    “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, who owned both ships, established a railroad and shipping network that made the family one of the wealthiest in America for generations.

    His money built Grand Central Station in New York City. His heirs built the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, the palatial manor that was the once the largest home in the country. The home was used as a “mountain lodge” in Asheville at a time when you could walk out the front door to hunt.

    At his death in 1887, Vanderbilt’s net worth was estimated to be more than $200 billion in today’s dollars.

    According to a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management survey conducted in 2014. “Both mail ships operated between Wilmington, N.C., and Charleston, S.C., traveling the same route in opposite directions.”

    “Despite a clear, calm night and fair warning, both vessels saw the other miles away, one of the vessels deviated from protocol and Governor Dudley rammed the quarter of North Carolina,” the survey said.

    “Crew and passengers evacuated, and the vessel sank within 15 minutes; no lives were lost, but newspapers reported the shipment of mail and personal cargo, including congressional payroll of $15,000 to $20,000, was lost.”

    Oddly, after the “deviated” wreck, neither Vanderbilt or his heirs filed a claim or made an effort to salvage the ship or contents, leaving it to sit and sink into 3 or 4 feet of mud.

    According to The Fayetteville Observer at that time, “The baggage and mail are lost, and with them a large amount of gold.”

    As with most local lore, at least a few of the tales are real. Two decades ago, explorer Tommy Thompson found a cache worth millions of dollars around the 19th-century wreck of the Central America some 160 miles offshore South Carolina. He ended up embroiled in legal problems.

    But beyond 3 miles, the ocean is virtually open to any salvage operator who has custody of a wreck. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are tracking the salvage work, according to its legal staff, it doesn’t have an active role.

    Blue Water, with its partner, the Endurance Exploration Group, started after the shipwreck in 2018, by filing for custody of the wreck site with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission.

    “The Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad Company owned the S.S. North Carolina and the S.S. Governor Dudley, and they were used to transport passengers between railheads in Charleston, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina,” the filing said.

    The filing also noted that Vanderbilt hadn’t insured either ship and didn’t try to find or salvage it. The family heirs have never searched for it or “asserted any claim” to the ship, cargo, or valuables.

    “There could be a lot more out there if you go by the (ship’s) manifest,” Carter said. But based on the fact that no claims were filed and none of the family searched for the shipwreck, he suspects it’s more likely the value of the ship and lost cargo was inflated on the manifest as a business write-off.

    South Carolina Piracy

    The lore of lost ships and gold has drawn treasure hunters to the Carolinas for centuries. The stormy waters and perilous reefs make for countless shipwrecks up and down busy trade routes. And some pirates roamed the deep and the islands.

    Piracy also influenced the names of several locales around Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand. Drunken Jack Island was named for a pirate who, drunk from too much rum, died on the island. One local legend says Murrells Inlet was named for pirate Captain John Murrell, who used the inlet as his headquarters while he preyed on ships at sea. Legend says Murrell once attacked a ship carrying inlet residents. He rescued them and delivered them safely home. According to that legend, the grateful victims rewarded him gifts and named the settlement for him.

    Each pirate’s legend is unique, but the men and women who prospered during the “Golden Age of Piracy” shared a yearning for adventure, they loved the seafaring life, and they craved the wealth that piracy gave them. Legend also tells us they took advantage of the Grand Strand’s beautiful marshes and islands to hide their treasures until they returned from adventure.

    Edward “Blackbeard” Teach

    Edward “Blackbeard” Teach is among one of the most famous historical pirates to call the Grand Strand home. The area’s many coves and harbors provided excellent hideouts, and legend says that Blackbeard was particularly fond of going ashore in a small boat with one crewman to bury treasure chests, only to return to his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, alone. 

    Teach carefully cultivated his fearsome reputation as a warrior, encouraging early surrenders with minimal resistance. He dressed entirely in black like a man on his way to a funeral. Being a tall man with a muscular build, Blackbeard intimidated his opponents by braiding his long black beard and tying the braids with colorful ribbons. Then he’s hold pieces of slowly burning cannon match cord. The rising smoke would give him a fearsome halo, adding to his Satanic appearance. Cutlasses, pistols, and daggers equipped his belt. Across his chest, he wore bandolier with six ready-to-fire pistols. Blackbeard the Pirate was that of a man not to be reckoned.

    Anne Bonny

    Women pirates also terrorized the waters off of Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand. Anne Bonny, the most famous, was just as bloodthirsty as her male counterparts. Bonny was a red-haired beauty with a fierce temper. Legend says she was the daughter of a prosperous Charleston planter. She ran away with a sailor at 16, and the two of them joined pirates in the Atlantic. Bonny was known to use a dagger to kill her enemies on her South Carolina raids.

    Bonny eventually fell in love with Calico Jack Rackham, a pirate known for his fancy dress. The two sailed and fought together until a British sloop captured them. Bonny blamed their capture on Calico Jack’s poor fighting and cowardice. According to legend, she visited him on the day of his execution and told him, “I’m sorry to see this happen, but if you had fought like a man, you would not now be hanged like a dog!” Bonny, however, escaped the gallows due to her pregnancy.

    No one is certain what happened to Annie Bonny after her capture. Some legends say she reconciled with her father and remained in Charleston, while others say that she returned to a life of piracy.

    Bargain Retail Treasures

    For those looking for a tamer treasure hunt, Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand is a great place to discover retail treasures, too. It’s a regular shopaholic’s paradise. There’s nothing like a little retail therapy to complement a well-rounded day of shell or buried treasure hunting. Myrtle Beach is home to more than 300 outlet stores, as well as prime retail complexes, malls, and flea markets. There’s no better place than Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand to indulge a shopping passion and to spend a little pirate’s loot for some family treasures. Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand shoppers have fun searching for treasure – that perfect souvenir, bauble, wardrobe addition, or whatever it is they fancy.

    With two locations in the Myrtle Beach area – U.S. 501 in Myrtle Beach and U.S. 17 at S.C. 22 – Tanger Outlets is a hot spot for snagging designer and name-brand goodies at off-store prices. Anyone with a favorite brand will likely find it at Tanger.

    Grand Stand Flea Markets 

    The Grand Strand Flea Market is on South Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. It’s the perfect place for searching for hidden treasures. Its five buildings offer countless treasures in addition to engraving, wedding planning, and jewelry repair.

    It’s easy to get lost in the area’s bustling flea markets. Hudson’s Surfside Flea Market offers a wire array of doodads, antiques, golf gear, tools, and clothing in more than 70,000 square feet. This family-owned-and-operated mega-market has been a treasure hunter’s magnet since 1975.

    Everything Under the Sun Flea Market, located on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach, offers just what it says – almost everything under the sun. With more than 100 indoor vendors, there’s also a consignment shop in the back with vintage items, antiques, and unique bargains.

    Outdoor Complexes

    Broadway at the Beach is the No. 1 shopping and entertainment destination in the Myrtle Beach area. Broadway is an exciting mix of themed “villages” features boutiques, specialty shops, hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, and amusements set on 350 sprawling acres with a glimmering lake at its center.

    North Myrtle Beach’s Barefoot Landing is another outdoor shopping venue with plenty of appeal. Set along the Intracoastal Waterway, this complex features several boardwalks that allow shoppers to enjoy the surrounding natural beauty and wildlife. Treasure hunters looking for a shopping experience that’s a little out of the ordinary, this is it. Of course, there are plenty of attractions and dining treasures, too, so plan on making a day of it.

    Market Common

    For those interested in a little more upscale treasure hunting, The Market Common offers an urban village community that combines fine living with upscale shopping. Located off Farrow Parkway in Myrtle Beach, The shopping district is amidst custom-built homes and condos, with a sparkling lake and greenways for outdoor enjoyment. Treasure hunters don’t have to live in The Market Common to shop in The Market Common. A leisurely walk through this upscale, beautifully landscaped community, reveal wares from upscale national retailers and one-of-a-kind specialty shops and boutiques. A cinema, as well as excellent restaurants, make The Market Common the ultimate Myrtle Beach destination for one-stop treasure hunting.

    And, of course, The Market Common is home to Keller Williams The Trembley Group, the ultimate Myrtle Beach real estate company serving all of the Grand Strand. Keller Williams The Trembley Group is the last stop for anyone looking for a treasure of a home or second home on the Grand Strand.

    Keller Williams The Trembley Group is a specialized, one-of-a-kind real estate sales and marketing company that offers the ultimate Myrtle Beach real estate buying and selling experience that is unique and unparalleled in the industry.

    Keller Williams The Trembley Group Real Estate Professionals use their passion, executive power, knowledge, and authority to ensure that every Myrtle Beach real estate experience is closed quickly and efficiently.

    For Myrtle Beach Real Estate treasure hunters who want a powerful brokerage standing behind them every step of the way, look no further than Keller Williams The Trembley Group. 




    Need help? Call Keller Williams The Trembley Group at 843.945.1880 ext. 1 and we’ll help you look for the perfect listing or buyers agent

    Hear what our happy clients have to say: click here

    At Keller Williams The Trembley Group, we pride ourselves on being the experts at more than just selling real estate. We are local residents, some of us have been here for a lifetime. The rest of us will be here until the end of time. We love living, working, and playing in the diverse backyard of Coastal Carolina, and look forward to helping you live and love your dreams soon too. Please reach out to us by phone or email for personalized 6-star service and one-on-one advice. 



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