Withlacoochee River, Valdosta

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Originating in Berrien and Cook counties, the Withlacoochee River flows south through Brooks and Lowndes counties then crosses into Madison and Hamilton counties in Florida.  It merges with the Suwanee River near Live Oak and eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

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There’s another Withlacoochee River, originating in the Green Swamp near Polk City, Florida,  and emptying directly into the Gulf of Mexico. Kayakers sometimes refer to Georgia’s river as Withlacoochee North. It’s believed the Florida river is named for the Georgia river.  The origin of the name is thought to be Muskogean/Creek, loosely translated as little big water or river of lakes.

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The Withlacoochee is a relatively low river in general, but was particularly so when I made these photographs in the winter of 2012. The river was suffering the effects of a drought at the time. It’s best known by kayakers and a few intrepid anglers. Bowfin (Amia calva) a cousin of gar, is common in most runs of the Withlacoochee and though not generally taken for food, is a popular, if exotic, sport variety.

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There’s little literature or historical writing to be found on the Withlacoochee. It’s well-known to locals, but beyond its moss-draped banks, very few people are even aware of it. Most published lore on the Withlacoochee can be credited to the paddle sport community.

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There are a few private campsites along the river but access is quite limited.

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The growth of Valdosta and pollution from industrial agriculture near the river are putting a strain on this fragile environment, but ultimately, the river makes its presence known.

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A neighborhood near the spot these photographs were made has been known to flood on several occasions when the river receives heavy winter and spring rains. Interstate 75 passes within a half-mile of this area, as well.

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There’s a timeless feel to this wilderness, even in its most urban setting. At low water, one could theoretically “walk” the river for as far as he wished.

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Today, the Withlacoochee-Willacoochee-Alapaha-Little-Upper Suwannee Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is working to make the public more aware of the smaller and lesser known rivers of this section of South Georgia. Through education and pollution monitoring, they’re beginning to make a real impact.

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3 Comments

Filed under --LOWNDES COUNTY GA--, Valdosta GA

3 responses to “Withlacoochee River, Valdosta

  1. henry carlstrom

    my father was joined a hunting camp in the late 70’s that had this river as a border at the lowndes-brooks coounty lines. My brother hunts there to this day – fishing can be good for red bellies and small mouth – we used to set lines for catfish and have a fish fry the next day – Great shots – Thank you

  2. Wendell Theus

    HI BRIAN, WOW !!! WHAT AN INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL PLACE. HARD TO IMAGINE CALLING THIS A RIVER AND NOT A CREEK, BUT I REMEMBER WHEN IT FLOODED THAT YEAR AND IT WAS SURELY A RIVER FOR A LITTLE WHILE. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK. THANKS

  3. Gean Nipper

    In the year 1860, my Great grand father work in this area. A small town thrived with the barges bringing goods up and down the river. Overnight the town moved to Valdosta when they got the railroad.

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