Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The River Will Not Die

Later this week I'll be giving a presentation to a seminar sponsored by the Wilderness Society in North Carolina. So it's a wonderful week for the sound of the Keowee River to be available all over the world.

My father, Marshall Williams, took a battery operated tape recorder to a shoals in the middle of that river in northwestern South Carolina in 1967. The following year, what was then the Duke Power Company closed the gates on a dam that destroyed a river that was among the most beautiful and wild in the southeastern United States.

On that day, the Keowee River, once a highway of empire, died. I will never forgive Duke for that ecological murder. Yes, the lake there now is pretty. But the sheer arrogance and empty-headedness needed to do such a thing will mark them for all time.

A nationally known writer named G.C. Waldrep wrote an essay for Omniverse magazine online, and as part of it he included the entire 17-minute recording of the now-lost river. Here is the link:


Those of us who remember the legendary Keowee River and valley will dream of it until our dying days. Sure, there are a few home movies and the like. But to our knowledge this is the only recorded sound of the flowing Keowee River. I listen to it frequently, and very often I weep.

I included it on a CD in the back of the hardback edition of my book The Flower Seeker: An Epic Poem of William Bartram. But here it is, now, free, alive. Please copy it and pass it on with a note that if people are foolish enough to let rivers die, they can be intelligent enough to prevent it happening in the future.

Alternative energy sources are becoming practical. One day, petroleum-based energy will only be a memory. That may be centuries from now, but its time will come.

In the meantime, be haunted by the sound of the Keowee River and hope and pray that in some distant time, it will come back to us.

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