Excerpt from an 1880’s newspaper article
Capt. W. H. Bixby and Lieut. Taylor, of the U. S. Engineers, Mr. Frank Brown of Salisbury, with a colored boatman. The boat, a flat-bottomed skiff, with two oars. This stage of the journey begins in what is today Tuckertown reservoir.
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The next day they started at about 6:30 in the morning and stopped at 9:30 in the evening, but made only 14 miles. The river was full of tumbling falls and rapids, and before they had gone three miles the boat struck a rock which made a crack in one side about three feet long and a quarter of an inch wide. When the boat struck it swung around and went down the stream stern foremost, plunging over a fall about four feet high. It was full of water, but had fortunately lodged on a rock which prevented its sinking. Before starting on their journey the party had laid in a store of oakum and tools, and with these they stopped the leak sufficiently to enable them to bail the water out of the boat and get it ashore. Further repairs were made and the journey was resumed. About a mile from this stopping-place the river was found to be very shallow with a swift current and full of rocks. It was necessary to turn the boat with the bow upstream, the colored boatman in the water holding the boat to keep it from going down stream too fast and being dashed against the rocks. Three fourths of a mile further they struck deeper water, when the boatman jumped on board straddling the bow. The channel had narrowed to about sixty or eighty feet, and through this the boat went stern-foremost, Lieut. Taylor guiding it with the oars. The river at this point was full of ugly looking rock and the current so swift that the boat was carried along for about a quarter of a mile at a speed that could not have been less than twenty miles an hour. The waves made by the force of the current were about three feet high. A few miles further the voyagers encountered a fall, nearly vertical, of about eight feet. They went down, but when they got through the boat was submerged by the waves and went to the bottom. Mr. Brown was knocked overboard by the waves, and when he rose to the surface the boat had been swept beyond his reach. He managed to gain the shore without suffering more than a wetting. The remainder of the party were also thrown into the water but held on to the boat and finally succeeded in getting ashore. Lieut. Taylor relinquished his hold of the craft before reaching the bank to swim after some of their effects which were floating down the river. After they got ashore the boat was turned over and emptied, and all the baggage of the party secured, with the exception of a small valise belonging to Mr. Brown. Several bundles of clothing, a tin case of maps and some rope, were recovered about two miles down the stream from two colored men who found the things while crossing the river in a boat. After getting the boat ready two of the party went on a short reconnoisance down the stream and found a fall over which it would have been impossible to pass the boat, which was finally lifted over the rocks near the shore and past the dangerous fall. The rowlocks had been lost and the only means of working the boat was with the aid of poles. About one mile further the boat was hauled out and carried around the “Narrows,” some five miles, the party stopping as evening then drew on, at Mr. Lowders, at Kirk’s ferry.
The next day the boat was thoroughly repaired, and the journey continued. A short distance from the ferry they went through Gunsmith’s shoals, with an experience almost equal to that of the day before, but fortunately no accident occurred. …
The scenery in the vicinity of the Narrows is very beautiful. The river is contracted to a width of about one hundred feet, and sweeps through a gorge formed by walls of rock thirty to forty feet in height and sloping back on either side to mountains clothed with verdure which rear their tops some three or four hundred feet. The gorge is two miles and a half in length.