A Short History of the Yadkin River and Origin of the Name “yadkin”
1. Natural forces created the Yadkin River several million years ago, after the collision of the North African Tectonic Plate into the North American Plate, which caused the Appalachian Mountains.
2. The Yadkin River begins in a spring in the parking lot of Green Park Inn, Blowing Rock, NC; so do the New, Johns, and Catawba Rivers. Another origin is in Virginia at the headwaters of the Ararat River.
3. The river flows 215 miles from its origin in Blowing Rock, gathering more water from the watershed, to where it becomes the Pee Dee River at its juncture with the Uwharrie River.
4. From Blowing Rock, the river flows southeast down the Blue Ridge Escarpment to Patterson, NC, then east through Happy Valley into the W. Kerr Scott Reservoir; then through Wilkesboro-North Wilkesboro, Roaring River, Ronda, Jonesville-Elkin, Burch, Crutchfield, Rockford, Siloam, and Donnaha, where it turns south toward Enon, Huntsville, the Shallow Ford, Tanglewood Park, and the Trading Ford, then into South Carolina, where it flows southeast toward Winyah Bay, SC, into the Atlantic Ocean.
4. In 1674, Abraham Wood (1610-1682), a merchant from Petersburg, Virginia, first published the name Yattken (Yadkin), the name of a Siouan Indian town at the Trading Ford.
6. In 1728, William Byrd II (1644-1744), land surveyor from Virginia, called it the Yadkin River.
Yadkin River / Big Elkin Creek
The beautiful Yadkin River at Elkin's Crater Park access.
Big Elkin Creek by the old Shoe Factory Dam along Elkin's E&A Rail Trail.
This is an unnamed tributary that enters Big Elkin Creek just upstream from the water intake dam. This is a small stream that begins just above the armory location and east on US Hwy 21 Business.
Photo 1 shows an old car body on the bank, indicating this area was used as a dumping ground in the past.
Photo 2 shows an eroding stream bank, a typical problem on this tributary and all streams in the Elkin Creek watershed... A source of sediment input.
The Upper Mitchell River watershed, a well protected stream, designated as Outstanding Resource Waters for its excellent water quality by the NC Division of Water Resources.
Photo 1 is of the Mitchell River at Mountain Park - The Mitchell River has good stream side buffers and no tobacco farming upstream from this picture. The water remains clear and does not contain large amounts of sediment.
Photo 2 is of the South Fork Mitchell River at Mountain Park. Both streams received the same amount of rain during a June thunderstorm. Runoff into the South Fork Mitchell River came from nearby tobacco fields, the reason for the orange color and high sediment load.
Sediment and Streams
Photo 1 shows Big Elkin Creek with high sediment impacts.
Photo 2 shows the upper Mitchell River with low sediment impacts.
Notice the difference in the two pictures; the rocks in Elkin Creek are covered with fine sediment while the rocks in the Mitchell River are not covered with sediment. High sediment loads negatively impact aquatic life by impacting food supplies, reproduction and living spaces.
To learn more about Streambank Erosion, please click here.
To learn more about Riparian Buffers, please click here.
Wildlife and Wildflowers that enjoy the habitat of Big Elkin Creek and other area rivers
There is an endangered species habitat on the headwaters of Elkin Creek. It is a mountain meadow bog that contains the Federally Listed bog turtle due to similarity of appearance to northern populations.
For more information about bogs, please click here.
Photos above were contributed by Joe Mickey.