Image of Smithsonian exhibit panel at Yancey Public Library

Amber Westall Briggs, AMY Regional Library Director, wrote regarding the waterways display at the Yancey County Public Library, “The idea behind the exhibition is not only to explore water’s environment and culture input, but also inspire residents to visit our own waterways and to think about what it means to become better stewards of them.”

It is timely to have the exhibition and activities to focus on the importance of water in the three counties of 780 square miles with an abundance of water in rivers, creeks, branches, waterfalls, lakes, and springs.

Seven rivers named Elk, Linville, North Toe, South Toe, Toe, Cane, and Nolichucky begin high in the mountains and flow a total of almost 150 miles to drain the total area.

Hundreds of springs of clear mountain water feed a total of 446 creeks and branches.  Among the ones in Avery County with attention-getting names are Banjo Branch, Buckwheat Branch, Doublehead Creek, Gooseneck Branch, Grandmother Creek, Handpole Branch, Horse Bottom Creek, Pancake Branch, Peavine Branch, Poga Creek, Raider Camp Branch, and Shanty Spring Branch.

Continuing with attention-getting names, Mitchell County has Lyddie’s Creek, Pigeon Roost Creek, Rebels Creek, Raccoon Branch, Cub Creek, Lily Branch, Hollow Poplar Creek, Bearwallow Creek, Stagger Weed Creek, Graveyard Creek, Hanging Rock Branch, and Greasy Creek.

With more attention-getting names, Yancey County has Doebag Creek, Devils Creek, Tantrough Branch, Sang Branch, Possum Trot Creek, Lickskillet Branch, Dry Branch, Nubblinscruffle Creek, Bloody Fork Branch, Elk Wallow Creek, Moses Branch, and Pigpen Creek.

Names of waterfalls in Avery are: Elk River, North Harper Creek, South Harper Creek, Big, Chestnut Cove Branch, Bard, Hunt Fish, and Lost Cove.

Mitchell’s waterfalls are Gouges Creek and Grassy Creek.

Waterfalls in Yancey are Mitchell, Roaring Spout, Setrock, Whiteoak, Left Prong South Toe, Right Prong South Toe, Roaring Creek, and Blue Sea.

To complete naming our water resources, Avery County lakes are Grandfather, Cranberry, Land Harbors, Wildcat, Grandmother, Coffey Trout, Gusher Knob, Iva Locky, and Kawahna.  Lakes in Mitchell County are Swiss Pine, Buckner, Spruce Pine, Shafords, Laurel, Saylors, and Deer Park.  Yancey County does not have lakes.

A big factor with our abundance of water is that the total annual precipitation for the three counties is 79 inches.

James Byrd, Special Projects Librarian & Local Historian

(submitted  March 23, 2021)

Image: Photo of exhibition, Yancey County Public Library