Thunderbolt owes its name to a legend. As local tale has it, a lightening strike created a freshwater spring on the Wilmington bluff. So impressed were the residents with this story that they remembered it with the town's naming.
Thunderbolt grew up as a shipping point for local plantation needs and supported the river traffic. In 1856, the town abandoned its unique name and incorporated as Warsaw. From that point on, the town entered its history as a processing port for the fishing community.
In 1890, Georgia State College opened to admit African-American students. This college, today called Savannah State University, continues to be a historically black institution.
In 1921, residents restored the town's name. Seafood processing continued to play a large part in the community's development, and then in 1939, with the growing popularity of yacht racing, the town saw the construction of a yacht basin.
Until recently, Thunderbolt held an annual "Blessing of the Fleet" to encourage a good fish harvest. Shrimping, now however, has earned a place as the town's primary seafood industry.