Pee Dee River
|Pee Dee River|
Shad fishing in February: Pee Dee River, Yauhannah, South Carolina
|Name origin: Pee Dee tribe|
|States||North Carolina, South Carolina|
|Source||Confluence of Uwharrie River and Yadkin River|
|- elevation||272.3 ft (83 m)|
|- elevation||0 ft (0 m)|
|Length||232 mi (373 km) |
The Pee Dee River, also known as the Great Pee Dee River, is a river in North Carolina and South Carolina. It originates in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, where its upper course, above the mouth of the Uwharrie River is known as the Yadkin River. It is extensively dammed for flood control and hydroelectric power. The lower part of the river is named Pee Dee (in colonial times written Pedee) after the Native American Pee Dee tribe. The Pee Dee region of South Carolina, composed of the northeastern counties of the state, was named after the tribe and/or river. The first Europeans believed to have navigated part of the river was a party sent by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1521. They named it "River of St. John the Baptist."
Navigable up to the fall line at Cheraw, the river was an important trade route through the Low Country from colonial times. The largest lumber company in the world existed at the turn of the 20th century near the river's mouth at Georgetown. The virgin pine forests of the Pee Dee region were cut over, and the logs floated in rafts downriver to be sawn into lumber and exported to the northern USA and Europe.
The lower part of the river flood plain was extensively developed for rice culture in colonial time; rice was the major export of the area from the port at Georgetown. Rice culture declined with the loss of slave labor after the Civil War, and increased overseas competition. Two hurricanes at the beginning of the 20th century destroyed much of the rice canal infrastructure and effectively ended the remnants of rice culture.
Today the river is not extensively used for navigation. It is an important source of electric power and public water supplies, as well as recreational use. While the Pee Dee is free-flowing in South Carolina, upstream in North Carolina, several dams have been constructed on it. The opening and closing of these dams causes dramatic swings in the depth of the river in South Carolina. The sharing of water between the two states has sometimes been a matter of controversy, particularly during period of drought. Some commercial fishing is done during the winter shad run, and for shrimp in the lower reaches. The river is excellent for recreational fishing and boating. There are numerous boat landings, yet most of the river is wild, with forests of tupelo, oak and gum along its shores. Herons and alligators can be seen along the way, and a lucky sighting of a bald eagle is possible.
Snow's Island is a large island at the junction of the Pee Dee and Lynches rivers. This was headquarters for General Francis Marion during the American Revolution. It proved a safe haven for him and his ragtag militia troops, as the British were never able to find the camp. It has been identified as the center of an old meteor crater).
The Pee Dee River was the original river for Stephen Foster's song "Old Folks at Home" (commonly known by its first line, "Way down upon the Swanee River"). Why he changed the name of the river in his final version of the song is a subject of much speculation.
See also 
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Pee Dee River
- "The National Map". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved Feb. 14, 2011.