The Low Down on Black River

Current drought conditions here in Randolph County have driven the Black River to a record low level, and some interesting things, usually hidden deep under water, have been coming into view down along the riverside.

This week our local newspaper, the Pocahontas Star Herald, ran the photo to the right of a large iron ring, embedded in the stone of the river bed, that has recently appeared as the water level has dropped. It must surely have been used in the long ago to anchor the old steamboats when they docked here at Pocahontas.

So today I took my camera and went down to the riverside, looking for the old iron ring. I  never found it, but I found something about as interesting, the iron rod below, also tightly embedded into the stone river bed. It has a “head” on it, making it look like a big nail pinning the rock to the river bed, and it also may have once been used to anchor river boats here. I placed my iPhone beside it for scale and as you can see, it’s a pretty big spike!

I also ran across the large mussel shell below, also photographed by my iPhone for scale. In recent years I’ve heard that the big mussels don’t grow in Black River anymore, that the silt, herbicides, and pesticides caused by modern farming keeps them from growing large. But this one was plenty big, and I’ll bed it had a good-sized pearl in it when it was alive! (It’s now dead and empty, just lying there on the riverside.) I don’t know what caused the lines in the rock, or the little indentations that look a bit like spots where tiny sea shells once rested in sand that long ago became rock. Maybe a geologist could explain it, if I only know where to find one!

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