The Northern portions of Horry County were settled in the early 1800's by people of Scottish and English descent. By the late 1880's, timber and turpentine were driving the economy and the Chadbourn Lumber Company of Wilmington, North Carolina was constructing railroad lines into Horry County forests in order to get timber to their saw mills just across the state line in North Carolina. By 1887, the rail line owned by the Chadbourn Lumber Company extended well into Horry County, and on December 7, 1887, James Gould Patterson sold the Chadbourn Brothers land west of the railroad right-of-way for a depot. Loris was born.
The name “Loris” is unique among place names in the United States. It is said the depot was named by the Chadbourn family, yet there are different versions of how it originated. Stories from members of the Chadbourn family from that time period say the area was named for a novel while others state that Loris was named for a beloved family dog.
By 1892, the community of Loris was growing and four stores operated in the area. The growth continued and shortly after the turn of the 20th century, a movement began to establish a town. On July 26, 1902, Loris was incorporated with Daniel J. Butler serving as the first Mayor of the new town.
The first brick building to be constructed in Loris housed the Bank of Loris which opened in 1907.
Soon tobacco began to replace timber and turpentine as the main source of income and tobacco sales warehouses were constructed in Loris. The Horry Herald newspaper in 1909 described Loris as having one of the best cotton markets in the county and the largest tobacco market in this section of the state. Later that same year the Conway Telephone Company installed a complete telephone system in Loris, linking it to the county seat and the outside world.
In 1911, the railroad constructed a new depot to accommodate the increased freight being shipped to and from Loris. By 1914, Loris became known as the Gate City, which was a reference to it being the first town on the railroad south of the North Carolina line.
The 1920's and 1930's brought slow but steady growth to Loris. The local high school was accredited by the state in 1920. By the mid 1930's, Loris had one thousand residents and agriculture was king, with tobacco, strawberries, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce and poultry being grown in the area and shipped to northern markets.
The first civic club in Loris was the Civitans, organized in 1938.
World War II saw many of the young men of Loris enter military service while others served their country working in war related factories and shipyards. In spite of the sacrifices during war time, Loris continued to grow and efforts were made to diversify the local economy. Loris Wood Products was the first industry to operate in Loris. Opening in 1946, it produced furniture.
Recognizing the need for quality health care, the Civitan Club sponsored a movement to establish a hospital in Loris. Through a petition drive enough signatures were gathered to persuade the state legislative delegation to establish a special tax district and the effort to construct Loris Community Hospital began. Opening its doors on May 15, 1950, the hospital has continually expanded and provides medical services throughout Horry County. Loris Healthcare System is now the largest employer in Loris, contributing millions of dollars to the local economy each year.
Radio broadcasting came to Loris on Saturday, August 2, 1958, when WLSC-AM signed on the air at 9:00 am providing local information and entertainment to the community.
The 1960's saw an increase in business activity in Loris with much commercial construction taking place along Main Street.
In the mid 1970's when the state legislature passed the Home Rule Act, Loris officially became known as “The City of Loris”.
Textile factories opened in Loris in the 1960's and provided hundreds of jobs throughout the 1970's and into the mid-eighties until the textile industry began sending jobs to foreign nations and the local factories closed.
In spite of the loss of jobs in the textile industry, the growth of Loris continued and new businesses developed. Tobacco farming and sales warehouses remained the backbone of the local economy until the late 1990's. As the tobacco industry began to change and play a lesser economic role, efforts were made to attract diverse industries to Loris. A new Commerce Center was developed, through a joint venture with the Santee Cooper electric utility, providing land and infrastructure for new industry.
Since the mid 1990's, the City of Loris has grown dramatically with many parcels of property being annexed into the city. Following the 2000 Census, Loris was designated as the second fastest growing City in South Carolina by the U.S. Census Bureau. Much of this success can be attributed to the city’s proximity to the Myrtle Beach area. Many newcomers are finding that Loris provides a quality of life unique to a small city but is close enough to the beach to allow them to enjoy those things offered along the Grand Strand.
Loris celebrated the centennial of its incorporation in 2002, with a dedication of the first phase of a multi-phase downtown revitalization project which brought new sidewalks, decorative street lamps, landscaping and the City clock and carillon system to the central business district.
Each October thousands of people visit Loris and take part in the annual “Loris Bog-Off Festival” which celebrates that tasty Southern dish of chicken, rice and secret ingredients known as chicken bog.
Loris is well positioned to live up to its motto “A City Without Limits” throughout the 21st Century.