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Yadkin-Pee Dee River

by Elizabeth Bayley, 2006

Yadkin RiverYadkin–Pee Dee River rises as the Yadkin River in Watauga County near the town of Blowing Rock and flows southeast through Caldwell County; it turns northeast and flows through Wilkes County and along the Surry-Yadkin, Davidson-Rowan, Davie-Forsyth, Yadkin-Forsyth, Davie-Davidson County lines, and part of the Montgomery-Stanly County line. It joins the Uwharrie River in Montgomery County to form the Pee Dee River. The Pee Dee River then travels along the Stanly- Montgomery and Anson-Richmond County lines into South Carolina, where it drains into Winyah Bay

The Yadkin River has been the site of human civilization for at least 12,000 years, earning it the nickname of the ‘‘Tigris and Euphrates of the Carolinas.’’ It was formerly called the Sapona River, after the peoples who originally inhabited its banks, until the name was changed between 1709 and 1733. The origin of the word ‘‘Yadkin’’ is unknown; different spellings appeared throughout the eighteenth century, including ‘‘Yatkin,’’ ‘‘Atkin,’’ and ‘‘Reaktin.’’ The name ‘‘Pee Dee’’ probably came from either the Catawba Indian word pi’ri (something good) or pfhere (smart, expert, or capable).

The size of the Yadkin–Pee Dee’s North Carolina watershed is 7,213 square miles, and the river is 435 miles long. There are 81 North Carolina municipalities within its river basin, including Wilkesboro, Salisbury, and Lexington. In the early 2000s the area had a population of more than 1.2 million. The river has experienced various environmental problems, most notably a huge amount of sediment generated by the farmland erosion along its banks. Various soil-conservation plans have begun to solve some of the river’s sediment problems, as scientists continue to study both that issue and others affecting the Yadkin’s water quality and overall health.


T. Edward Nickens, "Father Yadkin," Wildlife in North Carolina 63 (November 1999).

Image credit:

Hairr, John. 2011. "The Yadkin River near Rockford in Surry County."




Are there any records of land owner on yadkin river in 1600 or early 1700 hundreds. Am looking for name of Brown. Would have been near what is now East Bend or Yadkinville, NC.



The area that is present-day Yadkin County wasn't really settled until the mid 1700s. First settlers generally came from further east in North Carolina. Land purchases for the area back then would have been in the form of land grants from the Lords Proprietors, specially from Lord Granville's district.

I have a few sources that can help you with your research. 

  • DOC - catalog of the State Archives that includes land grants (note does not include all county records) -
  • Land Grant Images database, this is not affiliated with the Archives, but has scans of many land grants that the Archives has - If you find a grant in DOC, check this site for the image -
  • Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, it won't have land grants, but it's an excellent source for pre-1790 research -
  • Here is a guide from our library on land grants before 1800, including how grants were processed and received and the different types of grants -
  • Our library's digital collections, created with the State Archives, and some of their original records such as troop returns, colonial court records, early tax records and more -
  • and finally, you need to keep in mind the county development for that area. Although it was settled mid-1700s, the county didn't exist until 1850 and the records from the time frame are located with the records from the county that existed at the time. Yadkin was created from Surry County, which didn't exist until 1771, which was created from Rowan, which was created in 1753 from Anson County. That means records from that area so early could be located in several different counties. Here is a county formation map that may help you -


Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library


Hello, I am an avid kayaker and steward of the river and its tributaries, mainly in North Carolina. Of the stakeholders you mention, do you have any data that reflects the impacts of these activities on water quality within the Yadkin Pee Dee basin?


Dear Rick,

Thanks for visiting NCpedia. I am forwarding your question to our reference team.

Francesca Evans, Government & Heritage Library


What is the stream flow feet per second or depth.




That is a fascinating question! I found this from the USGS website:

I hope that helps!

Kelly Eubank

Government and Heritage Library


What is the water usage in the Yadkin Pee Dee River basin?


Hi Tessa,

 Thank you for visiting NCpedia. You have an excellent question! The closest I can come to answering it is to share a site from the US Geological Survey site on Water use by county 2015. You can zero in on the state and then hover over the county for the data to appear. I hope this helps.

Best wishes,



What are some very interesting facts about the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin?

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