If you’re driving from the south on Highway 52 into Kingstree, you’ll first be introduced to an old gas station and then the Lamar Nathaniel Johnson Bridge. If you look closely to the right, there is a small dark green sign just before crossing the bridge. The slightly tilted marker reads “Black River Swamp.”
In June 2001, a 75-mile segment of the Black River was designated a State Scenic River. The river snakes through a portion of Kingstree and its scenic shores, rippled with bald cypress and abundant wildlife, including an occasional alligator, make it a prime destination for canoers, kayakers and fishermen. Its name is fitting as the dark tea-stained water is the result of tannins leached from plant material in the surrounding swamps. However, the Black River has never been designated a swamp.
By definition, swamps exist in areas with poor drainage and sufficient water supply to keep the ground waterlogged, and they have a high enough supply of minerals in the water to stimulate decay of organisms and prevent the accumulation of organic materials. They are often found in regions of low relief associated with rivers that supply the water. Most notably in the south, swamps were used by General Francis Marion, or the “Swamp Fox,” to bewilder and elude the British during the Revolutionary War.
To find answers to the enigmatic designation, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Black Scenic River Advisory Council, and the Williamsburg County Department of Transportation have been contacted. While the search continues, any information would be appreciated to help in uncovering the mystery behind the designation. Contact The News Editor, Michaele Duke at (843) 355-6397 or email her at email@example.com.