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The Lumber is one of five ‘Wild and Scenic’ rivers in North Carolina

Regardless that the Lumber River is one in every of solely 5 rivers in North Carolina designated as “Wild and Scenic” by Congress, the meandering waterway sees restricted use apart from locals who had been raised on it.

The Lumber River runs 115 miles from its headwaters at Drowning Creek close to Southern Pines to the South Carolina line, the place it merges with the Little Pee Dee River close to Nichols, S.C. Eighty-one miles of the river are designated as Wild and Scenic. Like many coastal rivers, little of it runs in a straight line; as a substitute, the river is one switchback after one other.

It’s a tannin-stained river with a wealthy, dark-brown tone; but, the colour of the water belies how clear it’s thanks partially to its principally sandy backside and restricted improvement alongside its hall.

Virtually 18,000 acres that adjoin the river are owned or preserved by the State of North Carolina and the Lumber River Conservancy, a nonprofit group based by the late Lumberton businessman Carr Gibson and the late lawyer Dickson McLean III. About 4,000 acres are attributed to the volunteer group’s efforts. The Lumber River Conservancy, based in 1991, is likely one of the oldest in North Carolina.

The Lumber River State Park adjoins the river in a number of sections. There’s a campground, a ship launch and a picnic space at Chalk Banks close to Wagram in Scotland County. The river then runs via the traditional tribal grounds of the Lumbee Tribe close to Pembroke, beneath Interstate 95 at Lumberton, on to Boardman at U.S. 74, then kinds the border between Columbus and Robeson counties till it reaches the state line. The Lumber River State Park’s headquarters are at Princess Ann Touchdown close to Orrum in Robeson County, not removed from U.S. 74.


Princess Ann Touchdown is the place I met Dickson McLean IV, a Wilmington lawyer who performs a number one function within the Lumber River Conservancy; Joseph White, the conservancy’s director and a professor of biology at The College of North Carolina at Pembroke; Lumber River State Park Superintendent Lane Garner, and Park Ranger Zachary Lunn.

On at the present time, March 27, a gaggle of 4 dads and their sons from Path Life Troop 1533 within the Raleigh-Durham space spent the night time on the Princess Ann Touchdown campsite and are prepared for a day of paddling.

It reminds McLean of his time as a boy when he and his father, his brother Robert and good friend Neil Lee, who later grow to be park superintendent, would take five-day canoe journeys as Sea Scouts from Lumberton to Georgetown, South Carolina, the terminus of the Lumber, Waccamaw, Little Pee Dee and Pee Dee rivers at Winyah Bay.

At nightfall, they’d search for sandbars on which to pitch tents and camp.

McLean remembers waking up one night time to the sound of lapping water, and later feeling a sensation of wetness creeping into his sleeping bag. Little did the group know that they had been shut sufficient to the ocean to expertise tides. To make issues worse, two of the three canoes had floated away. Dickson and Robert grabbed flashlights, and by some miracle, discovered one canoe downstream, then the opposite one.


The river had a gradual stream from heavy rains earlier within the spring and winter. Per week in the past, the river would have been harmful to paddle, Garner says.

“It nonetheless flows prefer it did a thousand years in the past,” he provides.

Paddlers ought to all the time name forward for river situations, Garner cautions.

The park workers has the occasional name for misplaced paddlers and drownings. The river is generally freed from downed bushes, due to a North Carolina snagging program that cleared the river after hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

Nonetheless, paddlers should concentrate on underwater hazards and watch out to not get sidetracked or misplaced in oxbows, that are previous river beds bypassed by the principle channel over time.

Garner says the higher a part of the river was designated as North Carolina’s first leisure water path in 1978 and the decrease half was designated as a canoe path in 1981.

“Having the nationwide and state designation of being naturally wild and scenic is fairly superior,” Garner says. “It’s the one blackwater river in North Carolina that has that designation. This river attracts a small variety of paddlers who simply need to mark this river off their guidelines. It additionally has a wealthy historical past and loads of recreation alternatives. It’s peaceable and exquisite.”


American Indians are believed to have settled the river about 20,000 years in the past. 4 hundred and twenty-nine archaeological websites have been recorded in Robeson County, in accordance with the Nationwide Wild and Scenic Rivers System web site. Early artifacts embody a dug-out canoe estimated to be 1,025 years previous.

The river bought its title due to in depth logging operations that created a large-scale financial system for settlers. Within the early days of the nascent timber business, logs could be floated to Georgetown, a distance of roughly 75 miles. Males who tended the rafts of logs are mentioned to have walked or ridden horses again to the world if the water stream was too robust to paddle towards.

Boardman, situated on the river the place U.S. 74 crosses on the Columbus-Robeson line, was residence to the Butters Lumber Firm, creating one of many area’s most thriving communities. Logging trams ran all through the area resulting in the lumber mills. The 20-some mile railbed to Truthful Bluff remains to be seen in lots of sections.


Right now’s 11-mile paddle is straightforward; there’s sufficient stream to maintain the boats transferring on their very own. The morning coolness offers strategy to a hotter day with a little bit of wind. The bushes are simply starting to show inexperienced and some redbuds and dogwoods are exhibiting some shade.

It’s a quiet paddle apart from our speaking. We scare the identical group of wooden geese off the water a half dozen instances. There’s little signal of civilization save for one space the place there are just a few shacks and an deserted college bus left to rust way back. There’s an RV and trailer campground just a few miles upstream from Princess Ann off Macedonia Church Street in Columbus County.

Lunch is a few hours down river on a small patch of sandy land owned by the conservancy.

Nature calls and we stretch our legs and backs. Lunn asks Garner to show his means to name warblers, small birds which are widespread alongside the river.

Park Superintendent Garner is an achieved “phisher.” Phishing is the artwork of attracting birds with a repetitive, raspy name. As we eat lunch, Garner impresses our small troupe as he leans again and begins phishing. Inside a matter of seconds, three curious if not barely agitated warblers are perched in a small tree above him.

Garner, the warbler whisperer, flashes a smile as if to acknowledge that he’s fairly good at this.

The one motorized craft of the day, a jon boat, comes by with three individuals. They politely gradual to reduce the wake, then take off towards Truthful Bluff.

A excessive piece of land owned by the Conservancy is an efficient spot to have lunch. Regardless of spending the morning on the river, it’s arduous to take your eyes off of it.

We will start to listen to visitors headed to Myrtle Seashore on N.C. 904 when a small, darkish cloud approaches and the underside falls out for about 10 minutes. McLean and I don raincoats however the different guys paddle via it. The solar is again out rapidly.

We all know we’re close to the top of our three-hour paddle once we see the Truthful Bluff River Stroll. We pull as much as the North Carolina Wildlife Fee boat touchdown in Truthful Bluff, dump the water from the canoes, and cargo them on the service that can take them again to Princess Ann for a visit on one other day.


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