ABOUT THE WATERSHED
headwaters of the Hiwassee River begin in the mountains of northern
Georgia and flow through North Carolina before veering west into
Tennessee to join the waters of the Tennessee River. The entire
Hiwassee River basin drains 2,700 square miles of land, much of which
lies in the Chattahoochee (Georgia), Nantahala (North Carolina), and
Cherokee (Tennessee) National Forests.
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images below to enlarge. --
River’s name is derived from “Ayuhwasi”, a Cherokee word that signifies
a savanna or meadow. This name also referred to at least two important
Cherokee settlements, one in Tennessee and the other at the confluence
of Peachtree Creek and the Hiwassee River near Murphy, NC. (Ellison,
with the name spelling?
Because the name was
originally a Cherokee word, there is no right or wrong English
spelling. The River is shown spelled “Hiwassee” on U.S. Geological
Survey topographic maps in all three states that make up the basin:
Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The Coalition now spells its
name this way to be consistent. Interestingly, the City of Hiawassee
was originally incorporated in 1870 as the Town of Hiwassee, but was
re-incorporated in 1956 to add the “a”.
The Coalition works
in the upper 1,006 square miles of the basin in Georgia and North
Carolina. Major tributaries in this area include Nottely River,
Brasstown Creek and the Valley River. Water flow in the Hiwassee and
Nottely Rivers is regulated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for
flood control and the production of hydroelectric power via four
impoundments: Lake Nottely in Georgia; Chatuge Lake on the
Georgia-North Carolina state line near Hayesville; Hiwassee Lake near
Murphy; and Apalachia Lake adjacent to the Tennessee border.
Ellison, George. November 1999. “Hiwassee: Refuge of the Cherokee.”
Wildlife in North Carolina Special Issue: River of North Carolina.
Vol 63 No. 11. Raleigh, NC.