Black Mingo Creek
Skill level: Beginner - Canoe, Sea Kayak, Rec Boat ( but take the appropriate length trip for your endurance level)
History: In the fight for the American Independence, the Black Mingo Swamp area played host to the famous "Swamp Fox" Francis Marion. Mingo Creek is mentioned in some of the diaries of his officers (see A Sketch of the Life of BRIG. GEN. FRANCIS MARION..." 1822, WILLIAM DOBEIN JAMES - there is a long discussion of project Gutenberg before the actually book begins) and two historical markers adjacent to the bridge under which we put in attest to the use of the area by the Swamp Fox. There is a picture in this page's album which shows a steamship loaded with cotton bales docking in Georgetown, SC after a trip down the Black Mingo Creek and Black river in the 1890s. My interest in the underwater archaeology of the area is what moved me to paddle this stretch.
Trip Description: The creek is a very deep navigable waterway which has been used for commerce for some time. It flows into the Black river approximately ten miles outside of Georgetown, SC. Hamp Shuping, the Fire Chief of Horry County has located a 38 foot cabin cruiser sunk in the creek which demonstrates how deep it it.
The put in is found where SC 51 crosses Black Mingo Creek. We met at the Macdonald's Restaurant about a mile East of I-77 on Garner's Ferry Road (SC378), and drove out Highway 378 through Sumter (Turn left when 378 does in Sumter), and continued on for 1.5 hours to Kingsburg, where SC 51 crosses 378 and heads South. Follow 51 south for 30 minutes until you cross the bridge. The put in is on the North side of the bridge. The bridge is marked, but the turn to the put in is not, although it is easily seen. This is a popular put in for fishermen, so is fairly well developed, but the tree line houses the restrooms, and not all outdoorsmen are knowledgeable about waste removal, so watch your step and eat lunch elsewhere. The shuttle run to the take out is easily followed. Exit the landing and turn left, following SC 51. SC 51 will branch away from SC 41 at a gas station/grill/rest room of last resort. Follow it to the left until you cross the Black river bridge and turn right past the bridge to the landing. The take out site is also a historical site, being the location (well, across the river from the location, you can see the old landing over there - get Steve to take you diving there) at which the Brown's Ferry Vessel sank in 1740. The Vessel is now on display at the Rice Museum in Georgetown.
The Creek is wide open and has a slight current. We were hoping to get a boost from the tidal flow, but found the effects of the flow were minimal, due to the width and depth of the water. The GPS showed several islands along the way, but on trying to circumnavigate them, the floating vegetation was not navigable for the canoes, so we took the open side in every other case. There was no other obstructions. The Creek was smooth, wide, and mirror-like the entire length of the journey. The black water made the reflections among the prettiest I have seen. Sadly, there was a lack of lots of wildlife on the day we paddled. We saw several birds, including Prothonetary Warblers, Great blue Herons, and White Egrets. The marine mammal situation was sad, as we found a recently deceased beaver floating near the put in. There are alligators in the area, and several large slides were seen, but no actual reptiles showed themselves. A lot of floating pond lilies were seen all along the stream.
There are little opportunities for beaching the boats at high tide, but as the tide drops, sand edges begin to appear. We stopped at a private house's ramp for lunch, and as luck would have it, found a landing just below it at 5.25 miles downstream from the put in which we could have used instead. The landing is near a place named Cow-head landing on the maps, but either the GPS was off, or the map was, but they did not coincide, and I found no other landing where Cow-head was supposed to be. There is a road named Cow-Head road off SC 51, so this can be a mid point take out.
We met a small group of people on a tour led by the Black River Expedition shop in Georgetown, who had launched from the gun club, and were returning to it for the take out. I marked the exit stream for the gun club as a waypoint, but I would have been hard pressed to identify it if they were not using it to go to take out, since the club was not visible. I am not sure if the gun club is a private put in or not. We took some time to swim and cool off, as the temperature was said to have been 101. Continuing down the river, the wind picked up and made paddling the canoes a bit of an exercise. The entrance to the Black River looked wide enough to be the ocean to us, and the power boats running races three abreast created a bit of a wake problem, as they paid absolutely no attention to the effects they were causing. There is a short distance (.7 miles) which must be navigated up stream on the Black to reach the bridge, but it is not difficult, and in fact is my favorite scuba site in SC. (Some of my artifacts are shown on the photo-album page of the dive portion of this site). You can exit on either side of the river. The county park on the side of the river on which Black Mingo Creek enters the river is less used than the public landing on the opposite side, but it also is less observed and may not be where you want to leave a car unattended. This is the landing at which the Brown's Ferry Vessel was sunk, and currently has two antique ferry boats sunk just downstream from the landing. One of the boats is 100 years old, the other nearly 200 according to the South Carolina Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology. Other, more recent, wrecks located there include a Ford F-150, a Camaro T-top, Isuzu Trooper and Subaru SR-5. (This seems to be a popular place to abandon stolen cars)
SC 51 Put in: 17 S 645364 3721303
Gun Club Exit: 17 S 645875 3717860
Cow's Head Landing 17 S 647302 3716502
Black River Junction 17 S 649280 3713752
Brown's Ferry Take Out: 17 S 648466 3712951
Trip length: 11.39 Miles
Boat-in-motion time: 4 hours 17Minutes