Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Ladshaw Day!

Ladshaw Day, you say? While not a familiar “holiday” to all, it is a day revered by whitewater enthusiasts who paddle the Green River, the wild, rapid-filled waterway that runs in a gorge just south of Asheville near the South Carolina state line.

Ladshaw Day celebrates the actions - or, rather, the unfulfilled plans of George Ladshaw, a Spartanburg, SC, civil engineer who proposed damming the Green River in 1906, and this is where UNCA’s Special Collections comes into the story. 
Ladshaw & Ladshaw's 1906 plans for the Green River Gorge, part 1
A few weeks ago several whitewater paddlers visited Special Collections to view two blueprints from the Speculation Lands Company Collection. This Collection contains deeds, correspondence, maps, patents, surveys, and other documents related to the buying and selling of Western North Carolina lands by the Speculation Lands Company in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

It also includes several 1906 blueprints by Ladshaw & Ladshaw, Civil & Hydraulic Engineers from Spartanburg, SC.  These blueprints show detailed plans to dam the Green River, which would have altered the roaring, plunging whitewater that paddlers love today. The blueprints were dated 110 years ago today, but the Ladshaws’ plans never came to be. It’s this exact lack of completion that is celebrated by whitewater enthusiasts on Ladshaw Day - the celebration of something that did not happen.  Our visiting paddlers poured over the blueprints, noting how the dam sites would have drowned out several of the river’s most famous whitewater challenges.

Ladshaw & Ladshaw's 1906 plans for the Green River Gorge, part 2

We thought we’d share this event by posting these two photographs of the documents in question. For more on Ladshaw Day, check out these links:  the American Whitewater Ladshaw Day web page, an article in Blue Ridge Outdoors about Ladshaw Day, and a post from two years ago by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Happy Ladshaw Day!