A pictorial tribute to the rich natural and human history of a lavish floodplain, and a call for its conservation
Through the striking color images of more than twenty photographers and text by John Cely, this book shares with readers the beauty and legacy of the Cowasee Basin. Located in central South Carolina along the Congaree, Wateree, and Upper Santee Rivers, the 215,000-acre Cowasee Basin, an acronym for the three rivers that hold it together, features some of the most significant biological, historical, and cultural resources in North America.
The heart of the basin is Congaree National Park, the Palmetto State's only national park, a landmark that features extraordinary biological diversity, including one of the tallest hardwood forests in the temperate world, along with six national champion trees and two dozen state champion trees. The Cowasee Basin is also the home of the beautiful Poinsett State Park, Manchester State Forest, the Congaree Bluffs Heritage Preserve, and the finest flat water paddling destination in South Carolina, Sparkleberry Swamp. The rivers and abundant hills make Cowasee a sports enthusiast's and naturalist's paradise.
The region is also steeped in historical significance. It was the scene of the first exploration of the North American interior when Hernando De Soto and his 600 Spanish conquistadors traveled through the area in the spring of 1540 searching for the legendary Indian town of Cofitachequi. During the American Revolution, Cowasee was the setting for some of that war's most distinguished leaders, including General Nathanael Greene; Thomas Sumter; Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox"; William "Danger" Thomson; and "Light-horse" Harry Lee.
The basin is also home to thirty sites on the National Register of Historic Places and one National Historic District, Stateburg.
Cowasee Basin includes a preface by Billy Cate, executive director of the Congaree Land Trust, and a foreword by Walter Edgar, South Carolina's leading historian and author of South Carolina: A History. Publication was made possible by the generosity of the Dorothy and Edward Kendall Foundation and grants from Friends of Congaree Swamp and the Richland County Conservation Commission.
John Cely retired as a biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and is now the land protection director for the Congaree Land Trust. Cely has spent more than forty years exploring the Cowasee Basin.