Lynches River

In 1880 the river was the site of the last duel ever fought in South Carolina. Ellerbe Cash killed William Shannon near the bridge crossing at U.S. Highway 15, which prompted the South Carolina General Assembly to outlaw dueling.

Originating at the confluence of two nameless streams in North Carolina, the Lynches River crosses the state line in the Piedmont and flows nearly its entire 175-mile length through South Carolina. From a relatively straight path in the pine forests it becomes a slower, braided waterway as it meanders through wetlands fed by the various tributaries. At the end of its course it is joined by the waters of the Great Sparrow Swamp and then empties into the Pee Dee River. Along the way the Lynches marks parts of the boundaries of Chesterfield, Lancaster, Kershaw, Florence, Lee, Sumter, and Darlington Counties.

After Europeans entered the region in the 1670s, the population of Catawba, Waxhaw, and Pee Dee natives declined. Queensborough Township, one of the original nine townships established in the state in 1759, was located between the Lynches and Pee Dee Rivers. In 1781 Thomas Sumter and his men were attacked outside of Bishopville by British troops but evaded them by traversing the Lynches River over Ratcliff’s Bridge, burning the structure behind them to aid their escape. In the late 1700s the Lynches attracted entrepreneurs who set up saw mills, harvested the long leaf pine, and shipped the lumber downstream to Georgetown. In the early nineteenth century counties along the Lynches began producing impressive amounts of cotton, and steamboats carried the bales downriver until the coming of railroads.

In 1880 the river was the site of the last duel ever fought in South Carolina. Ellerbe Cash killed William Shannon near the bridge crossing at U.S. Highway 15, which prompted the South Carolina General Assembly to outlaw dueling.

By the end of the twentieth century the river was primarily used for recreational purposes and was known for its natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and good fishing. In 1994 a fifty-four-mile segment of the river was designated as a State Scenic River, the longest stretch of scenic river in South Carolina.

Blagden, Tom. The Rivers of South Carolina. Englewood, Colo.: Westcliffe, 1999.

King, G. Wayne. Rise Up So Early: A History of Florence County, South Carolina. Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1981.

Kovacik, Charles F., and John J. Winberry. South Carolina: The Making of a Landscape. 1987. Reprint, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989.

Lynches River Advisory Council. Lynches Scenic River Management Plan. Columbia: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, 1997.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Lynches River
  • Author
  • Keywords marks parts of the boundaries of Chesterfield, Lancaster, Kershaw, Florence, Lee, Sumter, and Darlington Counties, Ratcliff’s Bridge, attracted entrepreneurs who set up saw mills, harvested the long leaf pine, and shipped the lumber downstream to Georgetown
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date December 3, 2022
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 9, 2022
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