As the Raven Flies

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten… charts?

For the past two days I have been going over the Intracoastal Waterway charts to plan our route south. As it turns out, about 30 miles down the Elisabeth River from Norfolk, you must make a route decision. Either follow the Elisabeth River south to Currituck Sound or turn west and follow the Deep Creek to the Dismal Swamp Canal. After consulting with Stephen we decided to take the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Great Dismal Swamp Fugitive Slaves

Escaped slaves inhabited the marshlands of the Great Dismal Swamp

The Canal is one of two inland routes connecting the Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle Sound. It was dug in 1798 completely by hand using slave labor. Taking approximately 12 years of back-breaking construction under highly unfavorable conditions, the 22-mile long waterway opened in 1805. Today it is operated and maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers for use by commercial and recreational boats.

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is 107,000 acres of forested wetlands, including the 3,100-acre Lake Drummond at its center. The refuge is home to a wide range of plant and animal species including black bear, bobcat, otter, and weasel, as well as over 70 species of reptiles and amphibians and more than 200 species of birds.

By choosing this route we will be able to study and document one of the most pristine wetlands in the country.

Edgar Allan Poe is said to have written “The Raven” while staying at the “Halfway House Inn” on the edge of the Dismal Swamp.

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