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Waccamaw River – Conway, South Carolina


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The Waccamaw River begins in North Carolina at Lake Waccamaw, a freshwater lake within a Carolina bay. A Carolina bay is a natural elliptical depression of unknown origins, though many scientists believe they are limestone sinkholes. From Lake Waccamaw, the river winds 140 miles through Horry and Georgetown counties after entering South Carolina at the Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve. It joins the Great Pee Dee River in Burgess near Murrells Inlet and travels parallel to the South Carolina coast, flowing past historic sites such Brookgreen Gardens, Sandy Island, and several rice plantations. In Georgetown the Black River empties into the Waccamaw River, which then spills into Winyah Bay.

Waccamaw Riverbank

Meridith Grimsley of Greer, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The river and the North Carolina lake are named for the Waccamaw Indians, a river-dwelling tribe that remains active and is headquartered in Conway. Though in ancient times their territory stretched from Lake Waccamaw to Winyah Bay, today the Waccamaws inhabit land primarily in Georgetown and Horry counties.

Waccamaw River Conway

Jim Jenkins of Chesterfield, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Waccamaw is a black water river, meaning that its water contains tannin from the leaf debris that decomposes within it. The result is deep brown-tinted water, giving such rivers the descriptor, black water. Such rivers are found along the coastal plain and do not contain the clay sediments found in rivers in the middle and upper parts of the state.

Historically, the Waccamaw River was a water route for transporting lumber and other cargo from places such as Buck’s Upper Mill in Bucksville. Today the river is a source of recreation, with the Waccamaw River Blue Trail guiding paddlers the length of the river from the South Carolina border to Winyah Bay. In Conway, the Waccamaw River Memorial Bridge takes car travelers from the city into Myrtle Beach. Beneath the bridge with its historic Gothic arches is a boardwalk stretching alongside the river. Called the Conway Riverwalk, the boardwalk features picnic tables, benches, swings, and other places to stop and take in the beauty of the Waccamaw River.

In December of 2015, The Nature Conservancy, a private land conservation group, purchased 494 acres of pristine land along the Waccamaw River. The land will be managed by both the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge in Georgetown and the City of Conway for ecotourism and preservation.

Reflections on the Waccamaw River


Contributor Meridith Grimsley says of her photo: “I simply have an interest to photograph the many rivers of South Carolina. I was on my way to pick up a friend at the Myrtle Beach International Airport, and this landing was not far away, worth a quick trip to get a photo of the sun starting to set on the river in the dead of winter.”

Add your own reflections here.


Waccamaw River Info


Address: Main Street, Conway, SC 29526
GPS Coordinates: 33.832575,-79.043717


Waccamaw River Map




Waccamaw River – Add Info and More Photos


The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Waccamaw River, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


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The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!








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