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The Yadkin River at Elkin, North Carolina, in 2011.
The Yadkin River is the northernmost part of the Pee Dee Drainage Basin.
|- location||Watauga County near Blowing Rock|
|Mouth||Confluence with the Uwharrie River, forming the Pee Dee River|
|4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Badin|
|Progression||Yadkin River → Pee Dee River → Atlantic Ocean|
|River system||Yadkin–Pee Dee River Basin|
|Waterbodies||W. Kerr Scott Reservoir, High Rock Lake, Tuckertown Reservoir, Badin Lake, Falls Reservoir|
The Yadkin River is one of the longest rivers in North Carolina, flowing 215 miles (346 km). It rises in the northwestern portion of the state near the Blue Ridge Parkway's Thunder Hill Overlook. Several parts of the river are impounded by dams for water, power, and flood control. The river becomes the Pee Dee River at the confluence of the Uwharrie River south of the community of Badin, NC and east of the town of Albemarle, NC. The river flows into South Carolina near Cheraw, which is at the Fall Line. The entirety of the Yadkin River and the Great Pee Dee River is part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin.
The meaning of the word Yadkin, derived from Yattken, or Yattkin, a Siouan Indian word, is unknown. In Siouan terminology it may mean "big tree" or "place of big trees." 
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Yadkin basin was inhabited by Siouan-speaking tribes. The Saura and Tutelo tribes are mentioned in historic records of the area. Before the Revolutionary War, colonial settlers of primarily Scots-Irish, German, and English extraction migrated into the Yadkin basin from Virginia and Pennsylvania using the Great Wagon Road and the Carolina Road. Notably, these included Moravian colonists from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania who occupied the 100,000-acre Wachovia tract following its purchase in 1753 (See also Old Salem).
In 1859 the NC Supreme court noted "it is certain that the Yadkin river is capable of private ownership and that some parts of the riverbed have been granted to private individuals." State v. Glen 52 N.C. 321( 1956). The court determined that the owners of the dam across the Yadkin could not have his property taken without just compensation.
The river is extensively used for recreation. Fishing consists mostly of sunfish, catfish, largemouth bass and white bass in the spring and early summer. Canoeing and rafting are also possible. A portion of the river flows through Pilot Mountain State Park. Morrow Mountain State Park and the Uwharrie National Forest are along the banks of the river where the river's name changes to the Pee Dee River.
In 1987, the NC General Assembly established the Yadkin River State Trail as a blueway which follows the river for 130 miles. The paddle trail is a part of North Carolina State Trails Program, which is a section of the NC Division of Parks and Recreation. A system of launch points and camping locations were created along the river for the trail.
Water supplies for many communities in North and South Carolina are taken from the Yadkin-Pee Dee and during drought years the division of the water is a contentious issue. The Mitchell River was impacted in the 1980s by massive runoff of sediment from land clearing at the Olde Beau development. Numerous citations from the NC EPA were issued against developer Earl Slick but the development proceeded. Today the golf course community near Roarin' Gap is a good tax base for impoverished Allegheny County.
Lakes created by the Yadkin/Pee Dee River
There are many reservoirs created by damming the Yadkin and Pee Dee rivers within the bounds of North Carolina, and are listed from upstream to downstream:
- W. Kerr Scott Reservoir
- High Rock Lake
- Tuckertown Reservoir
- Badin Lake
- Falls Reservoir
- Lake Tillery
- Blewitt Falls Lake
All but W. Kerr Scott generate hydroelectric power, and High Rock, Tuckertown, Badin, and Falls were managed by Alcoa under contract with the US Government, under FERC oversight. The contract with FERC expired in April 2008, and was under review after the N.C. Division of Water Quality revoked their water-quality certificate that the company needs to continue operating its power-generating dams along the river. The governor of North Carolina, Bev Perdue, and other North Carolina politicians made it a priority to recapture the Yadkin River water rights, but this has been denied. On September 22, 2016, Alcoa received a license to operate until March 31, 2055, a period 12 years shorter than desired. The license requires a minimum water level and a swimming beach for High Rock Lake. The terms of the license will now apply to Cube Hydro Carolinas, which bought the hydroelectric power operations.
List of crossings
- Caldwell County
- Many minor crossings of the Upper Yadkin
- Multiple Crossings of NC 268 (Yadkin River Road)
- Grandin Road
- Wilkes County
- Surry County and Yadkin County
- Yadkin County and Forsyth County
- Davie County and Forsyth County
- Davie County and Davidson County
- Rowan County and Davidson County
- "The National Map". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved Feb 14, 2011.
- North Carolina Atlas & Gazetteer (5th ed.). Yarmouth, ME: DeLorme. 2001. ISBN 0-89933-277-3. OCLC 883984093.
- "Yadkin Division: Relicensing Overview". Alcoa Power Generating Inc. Archived from the original on January 10, 2011. Unknown parameter
- "State should control Yadkin River dams". Opinion. Winston-Salem Journal. World Media Enterprises Inc. December 10, 2010. Archived from the original on September 26, 2012. Unknown parameter
- "NC Senator calls for EPA investigation into Alcoa". News 14 Carolina. TWEAN Newschannel of Raleigh, LLC. December 8, 2010. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Unknown parameter
- Dalesio, Emery (January 24, 2019). "North Carolina's fight for Yadkin dams, control of river fizzling out". Salisbury Post. Associated Press. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
- Bergeron, Josh (September 23, 2016). "Alcoa receives long-term federal license for Yadkin dams". Salisbury Post. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
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- Yadkin Riverkeeper
- General information about many of the dam projects on the river
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Yadkin River
- Yadkin River entry on Water Wiki