delithopia

Notes from the Waxhaws

In search of…

with 4 comments

…the Rocky Shoals Spider Lily. This morning held the promise of a beautiful spring day, and my mercurial mood-o-meter was spiking in the positive direction, so I decided to spend the morning at Landsford Canal State Park, which is only 4 miles due west of the house, as the crow flies, on the western banks of the Catawba River. Unfortunately, I live on the eastern side of the river, and it’s about a twenty mile trip over the nearest crossing. But, it was a very nice morning…and worth the drive…so I grabbed a couple of granola bars and a bottle of water, and hit the road again. The morning air at this time of year is heavily scented with the sweet smell of blooming shrubs and flowers…and the magnolias are in full display.

Landsford Canal State Park contains a series of locks that were in use during the early 1800s, to allow boats to navigate around the falls and shoals of the Catawba river in this area. The locks allowed the boats to overcome a 36-foot fall in elevation along the rapids of the river. This 200-year old structure is still quite impressive.

Locks at Landsford Canal

According to a brochure I picked up at the park:

“The lifting locks were built primarily with rough cut stones and fieldstones, and faced with finished granite. Most of the granite used in the locks came from a nearby quarry. The stone was shaped by hand on site, usually by a mason’s apprentice. The finished stone was put in place under the direction of the master mason. Smaller stones were placed by hand, and larger stones, such as in the lock walls, were hoisted in place with a machine that employed a series of timbers and pulleys. The mortar was then worked into the spaces between the stones and pointed to give a finished appearance. The basic engineering methods involved had changed very little for almost twenty centuries, since the Romans pioneered such engineering concepts as the arch, hydraulic cement, and mechanical lifting devices.”

The park is also said to contain the largest population in the country of the Rocky Shoals Spider Lily (Hymenocallis coronaria. The lilies are usually in full bloom from mid-May through mid-June. After walking about a half-mile along a trail down river, I came to the spot where the lilies lived among the rocky shoals. Unfortunately, I was either too early, or too late, since there were no blooms to be seen.

Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies

I did find a photo of the lilies in full bloom, and it’s quite impressive. I guess I’ll have to try again on another visit…perhaps on a moonlit night…to get the full effect.

This morning, there were quite a few kayakers on the river…

Kayaking on the Catawba

It brought back memories of the times Sharon and I went kayaking when we lived in Florida. I still remember the time we were on the Myakka River near Sarasota. There was a large population of alligators on the river, and we spent a few hours serenely paddling the river with gators lurking near the shore. About a week later, I read about a man, who was out kayaking by himself, being fatally attacked by a large bull alligator who evidently didn’t appreciate the kayaker encroaching on his territory. Thinking back on our little outing with the gators on the Myakka River, all that comes to mind is…”What were we thinking!” But…it’s a good memory…and I miss our little exploits on the water.

There’s a lot of history in this little corner of the world called the Waxhaws. During the Revolutionary War, the British troops under Cornwallis crossed the Catawba at Landsford. In 1781, they burned down the old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church meeting house (Andrew Jackson was baptized here) that was only a mile and a half  from where I live.

The trail at Landsford Canal State Park is part of the Carolina Thread Trail, a network of existing and proposed trails, greenways, and byways located in the heart of the Carolinas.

Carolina Thread Trail

Along the Catawba

Well…that was my Saturday morning diversion. And yes…I did remember to take the trash to the dump…and feed Hector (he can be so needy).

Written by Jim

May 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Your saturday morning excursion brought back memories of us birding at Crab Tree Preserve outside Chicago many years ago. I used to love walking the trails on a windy, late fall afternoon. It appears you live in a very beautiful neck of the woods.

    Joe

    May 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    • Hi Joe…yep, those were good walks. I miss the cattail marshes and the Red-winged blackbirds.

      Jim

      May 22, 2011 at 9:55 am

  2. When you described how far you had to drive to get to a spot only 4 miles from your home I was thinking that a boat might be handy. After the rest of the info regarding the perils of that river I think the drive was the prudent route. I had another thought after the kayaking portion of the post and found my self also pondering, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!”. Kayaking is very popular here in the pacific northwest and we do have a few hazards but thankfully alligators are not among them. A man was mauled by a black bear just down the road from our cabin in the fall so I guess we could lock ourselves in a closet and just be scardy cats never experiencing anything.
    I’m quite certain when it’s our time…it’s our time. Sharon must have loved these adventures and how much less enjoyable would your life together have been without them. 4 months! How you must miss her. You’ll never forget, but I’m told it will get easier….that’s what “they” say. pg

    PK

    May 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    • Yes…we must “sail our ships out on the open sea.” Belle and Tinker were also unwitting participants of our ‘foolishness’ at times. We took them along on a kayak outing on the Sullivan River in Florida. Tinker rode with Sharon, and Belle with me. We had fitted them with little orange inflatable donuts that went around their middles, and at times let them ‘swim’ alongside the kayaks. I don’t think there were any gators in that river…but I can’t be completely sure…the dogs enjoyed it immensely though…LOL. Hindsight is 20/20.

      Jim

      May 22, 2011 at 10:05 am


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