This chapter describes the Cape Fear River as many rivers with many seasons. In the course of more than four centuries, it has been called the Sapona, Rio Jordan, the Charles, the Clarendon, the Thoroughfare, and the Cape Fair. It begins just above Buckhorn Dam, an obsolete hydroelectric project at the edge of the Piedmont, and rushes through white-water rock gardens to Raven Rock, now a state park built on high bluffs overlooking the river. The river widens past Lillington and courses in a meandering current down to Fayetteville, formerly Cross Creek and Campbellton, settled by Scots. Then it passes through three massive sets of locks and dams on to Tarheel, Elizabethtown, Navassa, and Wilmington, where it is joined by the Northeast Cape Fear, and continues down the ship channel to the estuary at Southport, sweeping in a graceful S-turn past Oak Island and Smith's Island, now called Bald Head Island, and Fort Fisher, through an estuary that stretches thirty-five miles to the sea.
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