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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."




What 21 counties run through the yadkin pee dee river basin


Hello Sarah,

I'm not sure about the South Carolina counties it flows through but in North Carolina it touches Watauga, Caldwell, Wilkes, Surry, Yadkin, Forsyth, Davie, Davidson, Rowan, Stanly, Montgomery, Anson, and Richmond counties.

I hope this helps, please feel free to reply to this post with any further questions or comments.

Best Wishes,

Christopher - NC Government and Heritage Library


what are some uses for the Yadkin Pee -Dee River?


Hi Carley,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and for sharing your question.  That's a great question!

The Yadkin-Pee Dee River has many uses including, drinking water, industry, growing crops, power generation and recreation.

The watershed basin itself is very large and runs from the Virginia border and south of Charlotte into South Carolina.  More than 1.7 million people live within this or use the waters of the river basin.

I hope this helps!  If you have more questions, feel free to post another comment.

Best wishes,

NC Government & Heritage Library


What are some bio indicators?


what are chemical, physical, and biological indicators of the yadkin-pee dee river?


Dear Korrie,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share your question.  

If you are still looking for information I would be glad to help you. 

Here are a few websites and reports from the State of North Carolina.  If this information would help, that’s great.  If not and you are looking for something different, please let me know and I will do some additional research.

Information pamphlet on the Yadkin River, from the State of North Carolina:

Technical reports on North Carolina’s river systems from the Department of Environmental Quality:

Basin-wide Assessment of the Yadkin River, from the NCDENR, October 2013:

Ecological Sustainability of the Yadkin River, from the U.S. Forest Service (not dated):

I look forward to hearing back from you and best wishes,

Kelly Agan


what are the countries of watauga


Hi Sarah,

Watauga is one of North Carolina's 100 counties.  Here is an entry in NCpedia:

I hope this helps!  Please post another comment if you need additional help.

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library


it was very helpful

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