The Lumber River defines wilderness and serenity for those who love it

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series that features the Lumber River. Part I covered ecotourism possibilities for Lumber River State Park and Fair Bluff. In this story, Publisher Les High talks with Fair Bluff residents who frequent the river.

For the people of Fair Bluff, love of the Lumber River comes naturally.

牧师. 雷Lundy, pastor at Fair Bluff Baptist Church from 1979 to 2009, 花了好几个小时钓鱼, 划船, 和他妻子在河边露营, 孩子们, 和孙子. He grew up fishing the Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers with his father near their hometown of Conway, S.C.

“我小时候是一只河鼠,”蓝迪说. “My father went fishing every week when it was warm. He let me go with him, but only after I learned to swim. He always told me you have to respect the river.”

牧师. 雷Lundy and 托德科比 share a few moments on the Fair Bluff River Walk, which runs for nearly a mile along the Lumber River. 所有照片由Les Hig提供

牧师. 雷Lundy and 托德科比 share a few moments on the Fair Bluff River Walk, which runs for nearly a mile along the Lumber River. 所有照片由Les Hig提供

The town embraced Lundy and his wife Linda when they arrived in Fair Bluff. That meant spending lots of time on the river with friends and parishioners.

He points in the direction of the rope swing and sandy bank where dozens of boys and girls swam in the dark waters. Locals still call it the “Minnie Hole,” named for Minnie Waddell, who fished there often.

Lundy remembers building fires on cold days with his son Jonathan, 在冰冷的水中清洗鸭子. The family often had picnics along the river, and he and Jonathan would take three- to four-day overnight trips, putting up on sandbars to spend the night.

“I remember one day when it was hotter than the hinges of the door on the gates of hell,蓝迪说. “Jonathan told me there was a bad thunderstorm coming, so we hunkered down and it rained like you were pouring water out of a bucket. When it passed through, it was like someone had turned on the air conditioning; it was nice and cool.”

Lundy says he awoke sometime early in the morning to the smell of a wet deer, then heard the unmistakable snort of a bear. A dank, musky odor indicated the bear was close by, probably on the trail of the deer.

When Lundy opened the tent, the bear was nowhere to be seen. He tells the story because it underscores that when it comes to the Lumber River, the wilderness is “right out your back door.”

Lundy says the River Walk and the river offer the kind of peace that’s hard to find in other places.

Lundy says the River Walk and the river offer the kind of peace that’s hard to find in other places.

Time on the river is second nature to people in and around Fair Bluff.

“我认为有些人天生就有这种能力, that wanderlust where you don’t know what’s around the next bend in the river,蓝迪说. “It’s something that’s innate in all of us, and I kinda feel sorry for people who don’t ever get to experience it. I imagine the last thing I’ll have in my head when it’s time to go are the times I had on the river.”

Lundy is naturally affable and gregarious. He enjoys chatting with people on the Fair Bluff River Walk, which meanders for three-quarters of a mile through the cool canopy of cypress and water oaks. He and Linda are on the boardwalk many days, she on foot and he on his recumbent tricycle.

They meet people from all over the East Coast, but locals especially enjoy the meditative powers of the slow-moving water.

托德科比, who lives just across the border in South Carolina, is taking a stroll on the boardwalk on a perfect, 阳光普照的傍晚时分. Bryant and Lundy begin talking about fishing holes and a three-story tree house that men who fish and hunt on the river assembled in stages over the years.

Lundy shows Bryant the old steam engine rail bed that runs through Red Belly Slough. The tram transported logs from Butters Lumber Company in Boardman to Nichols, S.C.大约在下游30英里处. The old trestle supports barely show above the water.

卢克·罗宾逊和他的狗库珀.

卢克·罗宾逊和他的狗库珀.

Also on the River Walk, Luke Robinson has taken his dog Cooper, age 9 months, for a walk and a swim. The dog clearly has great affection for Robinson, who says he got Cooper from someone who was going to “throw out the rest of the litter,“大概是在路边.

“I’m going to get some ice cream and give Cooper a treat,” he says before disappearing into the fading light around one of the many bends of the boardwalk.

•••

Few people have caught more fish on the lower end of the Lumber River than 威拉德小, 谁在4月19日满96岁. He was a Fair Bluff town commissioner for 48 years and co-owner of Fair Bluff Ford, 当地的福特经销商.

“People don’t realize what a good fishing river this is,斯莫尔说. “We’d lock the dealership on Saturdays at 1 p.m. I’d get in my Ford Bronco and head to the river with my strip boat and fish ‘til dark.”

Small would mainly fish for red breast and hard head bream, which are varieties of flatfish.

Small closed the dealership every Fourth of July and a group of men would paddle upriver to wet a line and fry fish on a sandbar. 这种情况持续了20年左右.

威拉德小, 96, is a life-long fisher of the river who was instrumental in getting the Fair Bluff River Walk funded. 了照片

威拉德小, 96, is a life-long fisher of the river who was instrumental in getting the Fair Bluff River Walk funded. 了照片

大卫小, Willard’s 74-year-old son who worked at the family dealership, says fishing is a way of life on the river, 追溯几代人.

Small recalls the bond fishing created between him and his grandfather Maxcey Small. The younger Small was his grandfather’s designated paddler, “and I inherited my love of the river from him.

“He’d pull up to the house before daylight – around 5:30 – and blow the horn,斯莫尔说. 没有什么妨碍他钓鱼. He’d even leave the tobacco field if he heard the fish were biting.”

Small says his grandfather knew all the fishing holes and lakes along the river: State Line Lake, 绿色的湖, 深湖, 大猪猪和小猪猪湖, 等.

斯莫尔的主要任务是划桨, though he occasionally got to fish when the two took a lunch break on a sandbar. That led to a lifetime of fishing with his grandfather and father, and later on his own.

He remembers as a child an area behind Fair Bluff’s business district where the merchants kept about a dozen wooden boats tied up and ready to deploy should word get out that the fish were biting.

“The river and Fair Bluff, they’re one and the same,斯莫尔说.

•••

It seems that everyone who fishes the river has had a traumatic experience with a thunderstorm.

威拉德小 was fishing upriver at 深湖 and heard thunder in the distance. Before he could make it home, it rained and hailed like he’d never seen.

“I had to stop three or four times to empty water out of the boat,” he said. “I’m telling you, I thought I wasn’t going to make it home.

“But, he adds, “one of the best times to catch fish is before and after a storm.”

The leaves of a low-hanging tree in the early-morning light.

The leaves of a low-hanging tree in the early-morning light.

不管天气有多恶劣, 然而, Small sees the river and his beloved Fair Bluff River Walk as a place of calm and serenity.

Many locals enjoy the boardwalk daily, and Small was no exception in his younger years. It’s especially pleasant in the early morning or late in the afternoon, when the water meanders among the pilings. Birds, turkey, otter, deer, and other animals are common sights. It’s a good place to commune with nature.

“If you’ve had a bad day at work or just need some time alone,斯莫尔说, “ the boardwalk is where you can be alone with your thoughts or just talk to the Lord.”

•••

One of the most prolific fishermen on the Lumber River is Michael 戈尔, 67, of Fair Bluff.

Most days he can be seen pedaling his bicycle to the Fair Bluff River Walk with a fishing rod and two buckets, one that contains dirt and earthworms and the other to hold the fish he’ll catch. He likes to throw a Beetle Spin lure because it attracts every kind of fish and “it saves you from buying worms.”

Michael 戈尔 pushes his bicycle toward home after a successful day fishing on Red Belly Slough.

Michael 戈尔 pushes his bicycle toward home after a successful day fishing on Red Belly Slough.

戈尔 chooses to fish by foot along Red Belly Slough or The Boon, both of which run close by the boardwalk.

戈尔 is one of 12 孩子们 reared by Mildred and Booker T. 戈尔. “I’m the only one who likes to fish,” he says with incredulity.

He has taught his five nephews to fish and to swim.

他的表弟, 小房间戈尔, 迈克尔说他已经80多岁了, was supposed to be with him on this temperate May afternoon, but Cubby has chosen to fish closer to the N.C. 904年桥.

“One thing about Cubby,” 戈尔 says matter of factly, “he does not like a snake.”

There happens to be one — a rather large water snake — resting on the edge of the river in a fallen tree branch.

戈尔 enjoys the River Walk in part because he was one of “nine or 10 guys” who helped build it. He remembers dragging timbers behind a riding lawn mower to the final section ending near The Boon.

戈尔几乎每天都在附近钓鱼.” He’ll eat fish two to three times a week. “I was eating them every day at one time, but I had to stop.”

He mostly does odd jobs around town for money. His house flooded during hurricanes Matthew and Florence, but he never thought about leaving.

“Fair Bluff是个好地方,”他补充道.

Earlier on this day, he had caught 10 fish and took them to a local convenience store. He gave them to a man who is too elderly to fish.

他在红腹谷感觉很自在, named after the type of bream that frequent the narrow cut-through.

He throws the fish he’s caught back into the water. “他们明天就来. 你得留点在这里.”

戈尔回忆起他多年的钓鱼生涯. 红腹沼泽是他的第二个家.“It’s cool, it’s quiet, and nobody bothers you,” 戈尔 says before he leaves. “It’s about the only place in Fair Bluff you can get some good, quiet peace…because people are afraid of the snakes,他笑着补充道.

然后他的语气变了.

“You know,” he says with a sense of reverence, “you really can’t beat this place.”

戈尔 heads home over the railroad tracks at Fair Bluff. 他很可能明天回来.

戈尔 heads home over the railroad tracks at Fair Bluff. 他很可能明天回来.