Santee River is a river in
Carolina in the
States, long. The Santee and its tributaries provide the
principal drainage and navigation for the central coastal plain of South Carolina, emptying into
Ocean approximately from its farthest headwater on the
Catawba River in North Carolina, Much of upper river is impounded as the expansive
horn-shaped Lake Marion reservoir, formed by the long Santee Dam, built
during the 1930s as a WPA project to provide a major
source of hydroelectric power for
is formed in central South Carolina southeast of Columbia by the confluence of the Wateree and Congaree rivers.
Map of the Santee River watershed.
It flows southeast
for before entering the northwest corner of Lake Marion, which
stretches in a long wide arc to the southeast for approximately to
Santee Dam. A navigable diversion canal first built in
the 1790s at the southern tip of the lake connects to Lake Moultrie, a reservoir on the nearby Cooper
The modern canal is operated by Santee Cooper
as part of the larger
hydroelectric project on both rivers.
from the reservoir it flows east, then southeast, forming the
northeast boundary of Francis Marion National Forest.
Approximately from its mouth it bifurcates
into two channels, called the
and South Santee
that flow parallel and separated by approximately , creating
. The two channels reach
the ocean at Santee Point, approximately south of Georgetown, and not far from the mouth of the Pee Dee River.
Wee Tee Lake, An oxbow of the Santee River valley, SC
The river was named by early settlers after the Santee tribe
, which inhabited areas on the
middle part of the river. The first European contact was by the
Spanish, who sailed up the river in the 1660s.
suffering a defeat during the Yamasee
War in 1715–1716, the Santee were relocated, many to the
Indies as slaves, opening up the
river for British settlement as part of the Carolina Colony.
In the late 18th century the upper river was the site of the
homestead of Francis Marion
patriot of the American
. The original site of his homestead is now
located under Lake Marion, which is named in his honor.
Construction of the long Santee Canal
linking the river to the Cooper was begun in 1793 and finished in
1800. It allowed direct water transportation between the Upcountry
of central South Carolina to Charleston, on the mouth of the
Cooper. The canal operated for 50 years before becoming obsolete by
the introduction of railroads.
During the Great Depression, the state of South Carolina created
the Santee Cooper
power utility. The
main source of electric power for the utility came through the
construction of a hydroelectric project inland from Charleston.
in 1939, the Santee River was dammed, forming lakes Marion and
Moultrie, and diverting the river's flow into the Cooper
River through a hydroelectric plant at Pinopolis.
The project was completed in 1941.
the project succeeded in its intent to bring cheap electricity to
unintended consequence was
the change in character of both the Cooper and Santee Rivers below
The Santee River, deprived of most its river
flow, became much more saline - resulting in an a changed ecosystem
below the project. The Cooper River now received much more
freshwater and sediment loads that used to flow into the Santee,
resulting in huge increases in dredging costs in Charleston Harbor.
In the 1980s, the Army Corps of Engineers built a diversion canal
to send some water back into the Santee, partially mitigating this
This is a partial list of crossings of the Santee River
- Lake Marion
- Lower Santee
- Highway 52 bridge
- Railroad bridge near St.
- ALT US 17
bridge and adjacent railroad bridge
- US 17 bridge (S Fraser Street) over North
Santee River and South Santee River