Winyah Bay

Winyah Bay is a coastal estuary that is the confluence of the Waccamaw River, the Pee Dee River, the Black River, and the Sampit River in Georgetown County, in eastern South Carolina. Its name comes from the Winyaw, who used to inhabit the region during the eighteenth century. The historic port city of Georgetown is located on the bay, and the bay generally serves as the terminating point for the Grand Strand.

The bay is evidence of a drowned coastline, created by a rise in sea level in recent geologic time. It was a prime site for fishing by generations of Native American cultures. This area was developed by English colonists as a seaport and center of rice culture and timbering.

The entrance to the bay is flanked by North Island, South Island and Cat Island. Today these comprise the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center, as the islands were willed to the State by Tom Yawkey, former owner of the Boston Red Sox.

Winyah Bay is the fourth-largest estuary on the US East Coast, when classified by discharge rate (Voulgaris et al. 2002). It is home to many aquatic and terrestrial species, including sturgeon, sharks, dolphins, red drum, stingrays, star drum, white shrimp, blue crabs, pelicans, bald eagles, cormorants, and various species of seagulls.

Nerr0315 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library
Aerial view of north inlet of Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

See also

External links

Coordinates: 33°17′28″N 79°16′32″W / 33.2912°N 79.2756°W

Atlantic seaboard watershed

The Atlantic seaboard watershed is a watershed of the Atlantic Ocean in eastern North America along the Atlantic Canada (Maritimes) coast south of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence Watershed, and the East Coast of the United States north of the Kissimmee River watershed of Lake Okeechobee basin in the central Florida Peninsula.

The continental area east of the Appalachian Mountains and highlands to the north and south is demarcated on the south by drainage to the Lake Okeechobee basin (which drains both westward to the Gulf and eastward to ocean), the Eastern Continental Divide (ECD) to the west, and the Saint Lawrence divide to the north. US physiographic regions of this watershed are the Atlantic Plain and the Appalachian Mountains & Highlands.

Sub-watersheds adjacent to the Saint Lawrence divide

Chedabucto Bay: 2,148 square miles (5,560 km2)

Gulf of Maine: 69,115 square miles (179,010 km2)

Long Island Sound: 16,246 square miles (42,080 km2)

Lower New York Bay: >14,000 square miles (36,000 km2)Other notable sub-watersheds

Delaware Bay: 14,119 square miles (36,570 km2) — larger than several, but not adjacent to either divideRehoboth Bay

Indian River Bay

Assawoman Bay

Isle of Wight Bay

Sinepuxent Bay

Chincoteague BayChesapeake Bay: 64,299 square miles (166,530 km2) — adjacent to both divides (at the Triple Divide point)Sub-watersheds adjacent to the Eastern Continental Divide

Albemarle Sound: >14,380 square miles (37,200 km2)

Winyah Bay: >7,221 square miles (18,700 km2)

Santee River: >4,531 square miles (11,740 km2)

Savannah River: 9,850 square miles (25,500 km2)

St. Johns River: 8,840 square miles (22,900 km2)

Biscayne Bay: >2,800 square miles (7,300 km2)

Kissimmee River: 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2)

Battery White

Battery White was an artillery battery constructed by the Confederates during the American Civil War. Built in 1862–63 to defend Winyah Bay on the South Carolina coast, the battery was strongly situated and constructed; however, it was inadequately manned, and was captured without resistance during the final months of the war.

The battery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is located on private land, but is open to the public.

Craven County, South Carolina

Craven County, South Carolina was one of the three original counties established by the Lords Proprietor of the English colony of Carolana in 1682 to include the colony's lands stretching from Awendaw Creek north to the western shore of Winyah Bay and inland. In 1685, the original county of Berkeley was expanded to include the southwestern part of Craven County, and in 1691, land was added to Craven County from the previously unorganized land to its northeast.In 1706, the Lords Proprietor established the Church of England Parish system in South Carolina, reducing counties to geographic designations with no administrative functions; the southwestern half of Craven County was organized into St. James Santee Parish, and in 1721, Prince George Parish was organized for the former northeastern half of Craven County, extending into the unorganized territory to the north and east of the county.In 1769, judicial districts incorporating the parishes were established in the colony; St. James Santee Parish was taken into Charlestown District, and Prince George Parish into Georgetown District.In 1785, the new State of South Carolina established counties within the judicial districts, with Washington and Marion counties taking in St. James Santee Parish of Charleston District, and Williamsburg and Winyaw (later spelled Winyah) counties taking in Prince George Parish of Georgetown District. These counties did not immediately become functional, and the judicial districts retained their administrative functions.The 1868 South Carolina State Constitution gave the state districts the uniform designation of county, by which they are still known. In 1882, a new Berkeley County was formed from upland Charleston County, taking in land formerly in Marion and Washington counties; Charleston County retained the coastal lands originally included in Craven County. In 1893, Charleston County expanded northwestward into Berkeley County. The original Craven County's lands now lie in parts of Berkeley, Charleston, Georgetown, and Williamsburg counties.

Georgetown, South Carolina

Georgetown is the third oldest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina and the county seat of Georgetown County, in the Lowcountry. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 9,163. Located on Winyah Bay at the confluence of the Black, Great Pee Dee, Waccamaw, and Sampit rivers, Georgetown is the second largest seaport in South Carolina, handling over 960,000 tons of materials a year.

Georgetown was the commercial center of an indigo- and rice-producing area. It is the birthplace of former First Lady Michelle Obama's grandfather, Fraser Robinson. Many of Michelle Obama's Robinson relatives still reside in Georgetown.

Georgetown County, South Carolina

Georgetown County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 60,158. Its county seat is Georgetown. The county was founded in 1769. It is named for George III of the United Kingdom.Georgetown County comprises the Georgetown, SC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Myrtle Beach-Conway, SC-NC Combined Statistical Area.

Georgetown Light

Georgetown Light on North Island at the entrance to Winyah Bay southeast of Georgetown, South Carolina, is an active light. The light is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, and the lighthouse is now under the control of State of South Carolina as part of the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center Heritage Preserve. The lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The original lighthouse was a cypress tower. It was destroyed by a storm in 1806. In 1812, a 72 feet (22 m) brick tower was built. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in 1857. It was rebuilt and raised to 87 feet (27 m) in 1867 after suffering damage during the Civil War.The light was automated in 1986. The focal plane is 85 feet (26 m) above mean high water.


Golenkinia is a genus of green algae first described in 1894 by Robert Chodat. The genus is named for the Russian phycologist Mikhail Iljitsch Golenkin. Golenkinia species live in fresh water (including bodies of black water such as Winyah Bay) and are found around the world.

Hobcaw Barony

Hobcaw Barony is a 16,000 acres (6,475 ha) tract on a peninsula called Waccamaw Neck between the Winyah Bay and the Atlantic Ocean in Georgetown County, South Carolina. Much of Hobcaw Barony is south of US Highway 17. The land was purchased by the investor, philanthropist, presidential advisor, and South Carolina native Bernard M. Baruch between 1905 and 1907 for a winter hunting retreat. Later, his eldest child, Belle W. Baruch, began purchasing the property from her father beginning in 1936. By 1956, Belle owned Hobcaw Barony entirely. Upon her death in 1964, the property was transferred to the Belle W. Baruch Foundation for a nature and research preserve. The property includes more than 37 historic buildings and structures representative of the eras of both 18th & 19th century rice cultivation and 20th century winter retreats. Hobcaw Barony was named to the National Register of Historic Places on November 2, 1994.The Belle W. Baruch Foundation and the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve jointly operate the Hobcaw Barony Discovery Center and provide tours and special programs.

List of bays of the United States

This is a list of bays in the United States.

See also Category:Bays of the United States

Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón

Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón (c. 1480 – 18 October 1526) was a Spanish magistrate and explorer who in 1526 established the short-lived San Miguel de Gualdape colony, the first European attempt at a settlement in what is now the United States. Ayllón's account of the region inspired a number of later attempts by the Spanish and French governments to colonize the southeastern United States.

Lumber River

The Lumber River is a 133-mile-long (214 km) river in south-central North Carolina in the flat Coastal Plain. European settlers first called the river Drowning Creek, which still is the name of its headwater. The waterway known as the Lumber River extends downstream from the Scotland County-Hoke County border to the North Carolina-South Carolina border. Soon after crossing into South Carolina, the Lumber River flows into the Little Pee River, which flows into the Pee Dee River, or Great Pee Dee River. Finally, the combined waters flow into Winyah Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1989, the river was designated as a "Natural and Scenic River" by the North Carolina General Assembly. In addition, it is the only blackwater river in North Carolina to be designated as a National Wild and Scenic River by the Department of the Interior. In 2010, the Lumber River was voted one of North Carolina’s Ten Natural Wonders, the result of an on-line contest held by Land for Tomorrow, a coalition dedicated to supporting the preservation of North Carolina’s land and water resources.

North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

The North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, in the U.S. State of South Carolina, features the salt marshes and ocean dominated tidal creeks of the North Inlet Estuary plus the brackish waters and marshes of the adjacent Winyah Bay Estuary. North Inlet is a relatively pristine system in which water and habitat quality are much higher than those in Winyah Bay. As the estuary with the third largest watershed on the east coast, Winyah Bay has been greatly influenced by agriculture, industry and other human activities. More than 90 percent of North Inlet's watershed is in its natural forested state

The reserve is home to many threatened and endangered species, including sea turtles, sturgeons, least terns and wood storks.

Reserve resources range from tidal and transitional marshes to oyster reefs, beaches, and inter-tidal flats and from coastal island forests to open waterways.

Pee Dee River

The Pee Dee River, also known as the Great Pee Dee River, is a river in the U.S. states of North Carolina and South Carolina. It originates in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, where its upper course, above the mouth of the Uwharrie River, is known as the Yadkin River. It is extensively dammed for flood control and hydroelectric power. The lower part of the river is named Pee Dee (in colonial times written Pedee) after the Pee Dee Indian Tribe. The Pee Dee region of South Carolina, composed of the northeastern counties of the state, was also named after the tribe. In fact, today the Pee Dee Indian Tribe still occupies some of their ancestral lands, although the tribe only consists of just over 200 enrolled members. The first Europeans believed to have navigated part of the river was a party sent by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1521. They named it "River of St. John the Baptist."

Navigable up to the Fall Line at Cheraw, the river was an important trade route through the Low Country from colonial times. The largest lumber company in the world existed at the turn of the 20th century near the river's mouth at Georgetown. The virgin pine forests of the Pee Dee region were cut over, and the logs floated in rafts downriver to be sawn into lumber and exported to the northern United States and Europe.

The lower part of the river flood plain was extensively developed for rice culture in colonial time; rice was the major export of the area from the port at Georgetown. Rice culture declined with the freedom of slave labor after the Civil War, and increased overseas competition. Two hurricanes at the beginning of the 20th century destroyed much of the rice canal infrastructure and effectively ended the remnants of rice culture.

Today the river is not extensively used for navigation. It is an important source of electric power and public water supplies, as well as recreational use. While the Pee Dee is free-flowing in South Carolina, upstream in North Carolina, several dams have been constructed on it. The opening and closing of these dams causes dramatic swings in the depth of the river in South Carolina. The sharing of water between the two states has sometimes been a matter of controversy, particularly during period of drought. Some commercial fishing is done during the winter shad run, and for shrimp in the lower reaches. The river is excellent for recreational fishing and boating. There are numerous boat landings, yet most of the river is wild, with forests of tupelo, oak and gum along its shores. Herons and alligators can be seen along the way, and a lucky sighting of a bald eagle is possible.

The lower part of the river from Highway 378 to Winyah Bay has been designated a Scenic River. [1]

Some tributaries are the Lumber, the Little Pee Dee, Lynches, Black and Waccamaw rivers. The river empties into Winyah Bay, and then into the Atlantic Ocean near Georgetown.

Snow's Island is a large island at the junction of the Pee Dee and Lynches rivers. This was the headquarters of General Francis Marion for several months during the American Revolution. It proved a safe haven for him and his militia troops, as the British were unable to find the camp until it was abandoned. (It has been identified as the center of Johnsonville Impact Crater).

Sampit River

The Sampit River begins in a swampy area of western Georgetown County, South Carolina, USA. It flows in an easterly direction to Winyah Bay at Georgetown. Only small crafts can navigate the upper parts of the river. The lower river merges into the bay and is deepened by tidal flows, and (to Georgetown harbor) by dredging.

During colonial and antebellum years, areas near the river were developed extensively for rice cultivation, on large plantations dependent on labor of African slaves. They created complex earthworks with dams and other elements to irrigate the rice fields using tidewaters. In this and other areas of the Low Country, African Americans developed the Gullah people and culture, a distinct creole culture with strong connections through culture, language and cuisine to West African peoples.

San Miguel de Gualdape

San Miguel de Gualdape, founded in 1526 by Spanish explorer Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, was the first European settlement in what became the continental United States. Established on the coast of Georgia, the colony lasted less than four months before it was overwhelmed by disease, hunger, and a hostile Indian population. Of the 600 persons who set out to establish the settlement, only about 150 returned home alive.The African slaves brought along by the settlers became the first documented instance of black slavery in North America and occasioned the first slave rebellion.

USS Harvest Moon (1863)

The USS Harvest Moon was a steam operated gunboat acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Navy to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederacy to prevent the South from trading with other countries.

USS Hobcaw (SP-252)

USS Hobcaw (SP-252) was a United States Navy patrol vessel, towing boat, and ferryboat in commission from 1917 to 1918.

Hobcaw was built as a civilian motorboat of the same name in 1907 by L. B. Newman at Long Branch, New Jersey. The U.S. Navy acquired her from her owner, B. M. Baruche of New York City, on 27 August 1917 for World War I service as a patrol vessel. She was commissioned as USS Hobcaw (SP-252) on 10 September 1917 at Georgetown, South Carolina, with Ensign B. T. Daggett in command.

Assigned to the 6th Naval District and based at Charleston, South Carolina, for section patrol duties, Hobcaw performed harbor patrol in Winyah Bay on the South Carolina coast until transferred to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island at Parris Island, South Carolina. Arriving there on 1 August 1918, Hobcaw acted as a towing boat and carried passengers until entering the Charleston Navy Yard at Charleston for repairs on 19 September 1918.

On week after the end of World War I, Hobcaw was returned to Baruche on 18 November 1918.


The Winyaw (also Winyah, Weenee, Wineaws) were a Native American tribe living near Winyah Bay, Black River, and the lower course of the Pee Dee River in South Carolina. The Winyaw people disappeared as a distinct entity after 1720 and are thought to have merged with the Waccamaw.

Yadkin–Pee Dee River Basin

The Yadkin–Pee Dee River Basin (alternatively watershed or drainage basin) is a large river basin in the eastern United States, covering around 7,221 square miles, making it the second largest in the state of North Carolina. Its headwaters rise near Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and the basin drains to the Atlantic Ocean in Winyah Bay, east of Georgetown, South Carolina.

The majority of the basin is within the Piedmont geographical area of the United States, but it also drains the coastal plains of North and South Carolina, and parts of the Appalachian Mountains, in North Carolina. It is part of the larger South Atlantic–Gulf Water Resource Region.


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