Most whitewater paddlers don’t know this, but Dec. 12 will mark 110 years since an engineer’s failed plan for a Western North Carolina river turned out to be one of the greatest gifts ever given to the sport.
Today, the Green River Narrows is one of the world’s most famous creeks, celebrated for the beauty of its gorge and steepness of its rapids. The Narrows is even home to one of the oldest whitewater races, where hundreds of paddlers have come to test their skill and luck against the Class V rapids and the clock. But in 1906, Spartanburg civil engineer George Ladshaw proposed four dams that would have destroyed the river.
But they weren’t built. The reason? Oddly enough, no one knows.