The original town of Sneedsborough was chartered in 1795 on a portion of the land that is currently part of Buchanan Shoals. Sneedsborough was established as an inner port city to promote trade along the Pee Dee River. It was an important trading place for several of the surrounding counties. The old town took its name from a family by the name of Snead, who settled there prior to the Revolutionary War.
It was thought that the town's population was about 500 during its best years. In the town of Sneedsborough there were two churches, a general store, the Sneedsborough Academy, a post office, and the Knox Hotel. The old Knox Hotel was a large double story building with a brick basement, containing 10-15 rooms. People from Georgetown and Cheraw stopped at the Knox Hotel for many years as they traveled along the old Plank Road, which passed through Sneedsborough. It is estimated from the remains of foundations located throughout the area that there were close to 100 homes in the town.
Colonel Johnson, who was the owner of all the lands at Sneedsborough during this time, secured a charter from the State of North Carolina authorizing the cutting of a canal between Whortleberry Creek and Baby Branch. The canal was to provide access for flat bottom boats around the rock shoals located in the Pee Dee River at this location. A rock dam was built across the river at Baby Branch to divert water into the canal. Signs of the old dam can be seen in the river today. The canal was dug entirely by hand using only slave labor. Before the canal could be made operational, funds became exhausted and the corporation declared bankruptcy. The old canal is located entirely on Buchanan Shoals.
The historic town was in existence until about 1835, when due to poor economic conditions, an epidemic of typhoid fever, and the fact that the Pee Dee River could not be made navigable beyond this point, the town passed into oblivion.