Down The Little Pee Dee: Paddling South Carolina’s Legendary Blackwater River
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It was a familiar place that William Walker returned to in the summer of 2012—back from a writing career in Europe to his boyhood home in Eastern South Carolina and to the Little Pee Dee, a legendary river celebrated from the time of Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. He had made a promise to his dying cousin Ben to paddle the river of their youth and he meant to keep his word. When he could fi nd no book to guide the 109- mile journey Walker wrote one. Down The Little Pee Dee—Paddling South Carolina’s Legendary Blackwater River records the events of the trip made by the author and his friend and cousin, naturalist L.L. Gaddy. The two paddled the Little Pee Dee from its headwaters at Red Bluff Lake in Marlboro County, S.C., to the junction with the Great Pee Dee River near the Atlantic Ocean. Walker’s entertaining and often deeply personal narrative intertwines the history of the Little Pee Dee—and his family’s history—with the two paddlers’ adventures on the river.
William S. Walker is a South Carolina-born author with a lifelong interest in the state’s Pee Dee region and Revolutionary War leader Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. Walker, from Nichols in Marion County, worked as a reporter and editor in the United States and Europe for more than four decades and has written and edited for newspapers on assignments in over 50 countries. He began a 28-year career with the newspaper Stars and Stripes at Darmstadt, Germany, as a reporter in 1973 and was the newspaper’s worldwide Executive Editor when he retired in 2002. Before joining Stars and Stripes Walker worked at daily newspapers in South Carolina and as a news editor for the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg, Germany, where he earned a Ph.D. in East European History. His 2010 book, German and Bosnian Voices In A Time Of Crisis, told the story of Bosnian refugees in Germany from 1992-2002. Walker is currently researching for a book on South Carolina politics.
L.L. “Chick” Gaddy, a native of Timmonsville, South Carolina, is a naturalist and author based in Columbia, S.C. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and holds a Ph. D. in biogeography from the University of Georgia. Gaddy is president of the environmental consulting firm terra incognita. He has done environmental-related studies on endangered species, wetlands and conservation from Maine to Idaho during a nearly 40-year career. His interest in the Pee Dee region begun more than a half century ago during fishing trips with his father on the Little Pee Dee River. Gaddy’s other books include: The Natural History of the Congaree Swamp (2013) Ferns of the West Indies (2013) Spiders of the Carolinas (2009), Biodiversity: Przewalski’s horse, Edna’s trillium, the giant squid, and over 1.5 million other species (2005) and a Naturalist’s Guide to the Blue Ridge Front (2000).