National Geographic : 1977 Jul
Suwannee PROPOSED FOR E FEDERAL PROTECTION 0 KILOMETERS 30 0 STATUTE MILES 30 DRAWNBYELIESABBAN COMPILEDBY GUNARSJ. RUTINS 4 NATIONALGEOGRAPHICARTDIVISION' "Way down upon de Swanee ribber," a homesteader awaits a catch of bass or catfish. Such a restful scene plays back the wistful notes of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home," the ballad that made the Suwannee one of the most celebrated rivers in America. Truth is, Foster never saw the Suwannee. Searchingfor a river name befitting a new song about the South, the composer in 1851 first chose the Pee Dee, a stream in the Carolinas.He later scratched it out (left). Despite its fame, the 265 mile-long Suwannee remains uncrowded and largely undeveloped. In earliertimes Spanish soldiers splashed across its fords, Seminole Indians and gator hunters roamed along its banks, and moonshiners toiled furtively in its swamps. Today conservationistsare active, trying to preserve the river's antique quiet.