After two days of testimony, U. S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle rendered a decision Wednesday that the "relevant segment" (Alcoa's) of the Yadkin River was not navigable at statehood. The judge gave all parties 30 days to file further motions in the case.
The State's case rested almost entirely on one piece of primary evidence, and several secondary sources, which claimed Richmond Pearson of the Forks of the Yadkin succeeded in navigating the Yadkin as far as the Narrows, although only after paying from his own pocket for workmen to clear a course, it being almost completely obstructed and unsafe in its natural condition.
Alcoa's evidence included two failed Yadkin Navigation Companies which sought to make the river navigable, diaries of the early Moravian settlements which found the river unnavigable, hearings by the Federal Power Commission, and various documents from the Army Corps of Engineers. Alcoa also presented experts on historical boats and on the condition of the river at statehood, which was too fast, rocky and steep to be a reliable highway for trading.
Even Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene's "boats on wheels" came into play, although I have not myself been able to conclusively prove that they made it to the Yadkin to be used in crossing at the Trading Ford, and they were certainly never used to navigate up or down the river.
So, two years after I presented a PowerPoint to the Uwharrie Regional Resources Commission on the non-navigability of the River, a U. S. District Judge has concurred. You have to wonder how much time and money, both Alcoa's and the State's, was wasted during that time. Surely we could do something more constructive.