A Lake, a River, and a Princess
I remember my first visit to Lake Waccamaw State Park. I was not sure why, but I knew there was something special about the area. The freshwater lake has approximately 14 miles of shoreline with an average depth of 7.5 feet and it is the largest of the natural Carolina Bay Lakes.
In 2008, a whale fossil was discovered. Scientists suggest it may be between one and three million years old. It is also notable that there is aquatic life that lives only in Lake Waccamaw, reportedly among them are the Waccamaw darter, killifish, and silverside.
Mysteries and legends thrive around the lake. The Waccamaw Siouan tribe is the Native American tribe from the area, and they call themselves the People of the Fallen Star. Many feel that the name supports the idea that meteorites formed the lake. The problem with this theory is that according to officials no meteorite fragments have been found.
Another legend, which I like, suggests that a stunning Indian princess was the caretaker for a beautiful flower garden that was where the lake is now. It was the custom for all the chiefs of the tribes to send their sons to see the princess to receive a blessing and a wild rose that would bring them good luck. The princess had made a vow never to marry so that she could always stay in the garden and send all the tribes her blessings.
One spring everything would change. A young brave was enchanted by the beauty of the princess and ask her to marry him. His request was denied, and he was enraged. He left and returned with his fellow tribesman; they were victorious over the Waccamaw people.
The heartbroken princess asked to die in the garden. She prayed that the flower garden would be transformed into a beautiful lake that could not be destroyed by man and would never become dry and that the waters should always be pure.
When I walked out on the pier, I thought about how wonderful it would be to talk with the beautiful princess and hear her happier stories.
I was pleased to learn that the lake outlet is the start of the Waccamaw River that gently flows southeast and makes its was through Conway and then on to the Atlantic Ocean and it nears Georgetown.
I also remember years ago when I first discovered the Waccamaw River; it was on a family trip to the coast. We had rented a pontoon boat for the day and once onboard we set out for our very own Huckleberry Finn adventure.
We were equipped with food for the day, fishing rods, and enough bait to catch more fish than we could ever eat. We enjoyed the mysterious beauty of the brackish waters of the Waccamaw and a shore lined with old homes and sandy banks.
Trees draped with Spanish moss seem to have an alluring personality all their own. Slowly navigating our way thru the waters stimulated both, a scene of anticipation and relaxation. We had a beautiful day on the river, and I don’t think anyone got a sunburn.
I love the beauty and tranquility of the Waccamaw.
And just think, it all may have started many years ago with the prayers of a beautiful Indian Princess.