The Great Dismal: A Carolinian's Swamp Memoir

Bland Simpson, Author
Bland Simpson, Author University of North Carolina Press $18.95 (185p) ISBN 978-0-8078-1873-2
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Northernmost of the southern swamps, the Great Dismal sits astride the Virgnia-North Carolina border and is perhaps the most mysterious wilderness area in the U.S. It has a colorful history: George Washington invested in a rice farm there; it was a refuge for runaway slaves, home to moonshiners and lumbermen and a rewarding spot for hunters and trappers. Because of a high tannic acid content, the swamp's water has remarkable keeping qualities; the Navy used the water to supply the fleet in the 19th century. Simpson ( Heart of the Country ) grew up in the area; here he reminisces about childhood visits to the swamp, talks to oldtimers and describes recent developments. The Great Dismal Swamp Canal, connecting Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle Sound, is the oldest extant manmade waterway in America. The swamp's natural history, encompassing black bear, bobcat, a bird paradise, rare ferns and wildflowers, is also examined in this engaging portrait. Illustrations. (Mar.)
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