ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) From Maxton to Pembroke, Lumberton to Loardman, communities have popped up along the Lumber River in Robeson County and flourished along its banks since this country began, but Native Americans have used these waters for travel and subsidence since as early as 20,000 BC.
It's believed the Indian name Lumbee was originally used for the river, from an Indian word that means black water, but the early Europeans called it by a different name.
"It actually used to be called Drowning Creek," said John Privette, Lumber River Park Ranger.
"You can probably guess why it was called Drowning Creek. It's a black water river, which means it looks black when you look at it from a distance. But if you put into a glass it would almost look like sweet tea. The reason is just like your sweet tea, the leaves from these trees fall in the river, fall in the swamps, fall in the creeks that feed the river and they decompose. When they decompose, they release tannins into the river," Privette said.
In 1809, through legislative action the named was officially changed to the Lumber River, most likely because of the river's heavy use by the lumber industry as a form of cultivation transportation of lumber as far south as Georgetown.
Today the Lumber River is less about work and more about play.
"You can ride down here on a summer day on the weekend and see people grilling out by a bridge. People go fishing all the time there's different access areas," Privette said, "People live on the river or near the river and go swimming. People do a lot of boating and then we also so a lot of canoers and kayakers."
Flowing at a gentle two to four miles per hour, the Lumber River is perfect for anyone to enjoy by canoe or kayak and there's plenty to see. From wood ducks to resurrection ferns. sweet gum to bald cypress, these dark, calm waters are guaranteed to relax you.
The Lumber River State Park offers free guided canoe river tours. Storm Team Meteorologist Rob Hatchell highly recommends it.