1949 – A group of lumber associates from Hinesville, Georgia, bought a total of 20,000 acres of pine forest on Hilton Head’s southern end for an average of nearly $60 an acre. They formed The Hilton Head Company to handle the timber operation. The associates were Gen. Joseph B. Fraser, Fred C. Hack, Olin T. McIntosh, and C.C. Stebbins.
1950 – Logging took place on 19,000 acres of the island. There were three lumbermills built to harvest the timber. The island population was only 300 residents.
1950 – The first electricity was brought to the island by Palmetto Electric Cooperative.
1953 – A state-operated car ferry began running from Buckingham Landing (near Bluffton, on the mainland) to Jenkins Island (at Outdoor Resorts).
1954 – Hilton Head Elementary School opened for the island’s black students. Isaac Wilborn was the principal of the elementary school from 1954 until it closed in 1974. The school was replaced by a new integrated school constructed on a new site in 1975.
1955 – Beaufort County state representative Wilton Graves opened the Sea Crest Motel on Forest Beach. At first, it consisted of two rooms. The first vacation cottages were developed on Folly Field Road.
1955 – Coligny Shopping Plaza is established.
The J. Byrnes Bridge opened on May 20, 1956. This was the first bridge connecting Hilton Head to the mainland. The cost was $1.5 million. At first, the bridge cost $2.50 per round trip. The toll was phased out by 1959. The Byrnes Bridge was a swing bridge. It swung open to allow boats to pass through on either side of the center support.1956 – James F. Byrnes Bridge, a two-lane toll swing bridge, was constructed at a cost of $1.5 million. This opened the island to automobile traffic from the mainland. This year, forty-eight thousand cars traveled across the bridge. The toll was discontinued in December 1959.
1956 – Charles E. Fraser, bought his father’s interest in The Hilton Head Company and began developing it into Sea Pines Plantation.
1956 – Norris and Lois Richardson opened the first supermarket on the island, located near Coligny Circle in the North Forest Beach area.
1956 – The Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce was established.
1958 – First deed to a lot in Sea Pines Plantation was signed. Beachfront lots initially sold for $5,350. By 1962, they were selling for $9,600.
1958 – Telephone service was offered by Hargray Telephone Company. The first Hilton Head office did not open until 1960.
1958 – Palmetto Bay Marina opened.
1960 – The island’s first golf course, the Ocean Course, designed by George Cobb, was built in Sea Pines Plantation.
1961 – The McIntosh family subdivided 360 acres of The Hilton Head Company to start Spanish Wells.
1962 – Port Royal Plantation was developed by Hilton Head Company, led by Fred Hack.
1965 – The Sea Pines Medical Center was built. It was staffed by a retired doctor who lived in Sea Pines but served the entire island community.
1965 – Hilton Head Island had its first rural mail route established.
1967 – Sea Pines Plantation installed the island’s first gates.
1967 – The Palmetto Dunes area was acquired from the Hilton Head Agricultural Company by Palmetto Dunes Corporation, headed by William T. Gregory, for $1,000 per acre.
1967 – The Hilton Head Airport opened.
1969 – Harbour Town village was completed. The full-time population of the island was 2,500.
1969 – The first Heritage Golf Classic played at Sea Pine’s Harbour Town Links.
1970 – Island Packet newspaper was first published.
1970 – The Hilton Head Company started Shipyard Plantation.
1971 – Sea Pines acquired land on the north end of the island, which was developed into Hilton Head Plantation.
1974 – The swing-bridge was struck by a barge which force island residents to travel off the island on a pontoon bridge constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The bridge was closed for six weeks.
1975 – The island’s full-time population by this time was 6,500. Over 250,000 visitors came to Hilton Head.
1975 -Hilton Head Hospital was completed.
1979 – Hurricane David missed the island, but high winds left beached eroded and destroyed several Singleton Beach homes.
1982 – A four-lane bridge was built to replace the two-lane swing-bridge to the island. The island’s full-time population was 12,500. More than 500,000 visitors came to Hilton Head in 1982.
1982 – Wexford Plantation and Long Cove Club were developed.
1983 – The Town of Hilton Head Island incorporated as a municipality.
1985 – Hilton Head Island’s Comprehensive Plan was adopted by the Town Council and Council adopted new Comprehensive Plans (1991, 1999, 2004, 2010, 2012).
1985 – The population was over 17,000 full-time residents.
1987 – The Town Council adopted the Land Management Ordinance (LMO), including the first sign ordinance and first tree protection ordinance.
1988 – Purchased 5 acres for Coligny Beach Park (1989) and parking lot.
1989 – The concept of a Cross Island Parkway is approved. The Parkway’s bridge spans Broad Creek and links the south end of the island to the north end.
1989 – Adopted Road Impact Fee Program, first in the state.
1989 – Purchased 1 acre for the Folly Field Beach Park (1991).
1989 – Town received its first Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Award and has received the award every year since.
1989 – 1st Pathway project (William Hilton Parkway-Sea Pines Circle to Palmetto Dunes).
1990 – 1st Beach Renourishment project (Atlantic Shorefront Fill Project).
1990 – Real Estate Transfer Fee is adopted and takes effect January 1, 1991.
1991 – The Growth Management Task Force is created.
1992 – The Municipal Court is created.
1992 – Purchased 16 acres for the Islanders Beach Park (1998).
1992 – Purchased 14 acres and in 1993, purchased 1 acres for the Driessen Family Beach Park (1995)
1992 – The existing Town Hall opened on 13 acres along William Hilton Parkway.
1992 – Purchased 85 acres, the first acquisition under the Town’s new Land Banking Program, for the first recreational facility, the Crossings Park (1996), and Bristol Sports Arena (1997).
1992 – Purchased 65 acres of the North Ridge Tract for the Beaufort County Library (1998) and Volunteers in Medicine location (1993) and placed a conservation easement on a portion of property to
protect from further development.
1993 – The Beach Preservation Fee is adopted and is the first dedicated local funding source for beach renourishment in the state.
1993 – State Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of Real Estate Transfer Fee and concept of home rule.
1993 – The Sea Pines/ Forest Beach Public Service District, the Hilton Head Island Fire District and the non-profit Hilton Head Rescue Squad merge to form the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Department.
1993 – 1st major road improvement project (New Orleans Road Rehabilitation).
1994 – Traffic Light Synchronization began.
1994 – Pembroke Drive (partnership with Indigo Run) completed.
1995 – Adopted Island-wide stormwater management plan with over $20 million in identified projects.
1995 – Voters approve change from 2 year terms for Mayor and Council to staggered 4 year terms.
1995 -The permanent year-round population exceeded 28,000 people. The island had over 1.5 million visitors.
1995 – Purchased 67 acres for Chaplin Community Park (2001).
1995 – Construction on the Cross-Island Parkway began.
1996 – Purchased 53 acres for Jarvis Creek Community Park (2003).
1996 – Beach City Road Realignment.
1996 – The Master Land Use Plan for Ward One was started by the Town.
1997 – Atlantic Shorefront Fill Project (including Port Royal).
1997 – Paving of Leg O’ Mutton Road and Jonesville Road.
1997 – Town annexed a portion of Jenkins Island.
1997 – Cross Island Parkway opened in January. The total cost was $81 million for construction, land acquisition, and planning.
1998 – Repealed the LMO and replaced with a new streamlined LMO.
1998 – Purchased 17 acres for the Fish Haul Creek Park (2005).
1998 – Dual Route Phase I and Dual Route Phase II road projects (1999).
1999 – Tax Increment Financing Districts are created.
1999 – South Beach Fill Renourishment Project.
1999 – Purchased 26 acres for the Shelter Cove Community Park (2001).