“Land Before the Waters” Speaker Series

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Oconee County Public Library and Oconee Heritage Center Partner to Present “Land Before the Waters” Speaker Series


(Walhalla, SC) – The Oconee County Public Library and the Oconee Heritage Center have partnered to present a series of presentations about “The Land Before the Waters,” sponsored by the South Carolina Humanities. The goal of OCPL and OHC is to engage our community through this speaker series by addressing the significant changes to Oconee County that occurred with the creation of Lakes Hartwell, Keowee, and Jocassee. The series will explore this theme from different perspectives: economic, environmental, and cultural. On the cultural side, one of the most well-known storytellers of the region is New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash. Mr. Rash will appear on Thursday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. at the Westminster Music Hall to discuss his first novel, One Foot in Eden, which, in part, uses the damming of the river in the Jocassee Valley as an element of the plot. Other speakers will include local historians and authors, like Debbie Fletcher, Claudia Hembree, and Jerry Vickery, as well as scholars like Dr. Mike Coggeshall, Professor of Anthropology at Clemson University, Dr. James R. Martin, Chair of the Civil Engineering Department at Clemson, Dr. Robert Carey, Director, Regional Economic Analysis at the Strom Thurmond Institute at Clemson, and Dr. Chris Manganiello, Policy Director of the Georgia River Network. Diver Bill Routh, who has dived in both Lakes Keowee and Jocassee, will also speak about his experiences.


By focusing on the creation of the lakes, the hope is to start conversations in our community that will allow us to reflect on our history, and to teach the next generation about a time that directly impacts the way they live today–to be able to share with others the many different stories of this time–from entire communities that no longer exist in their original location, to the individuals who remember places like High Falls before it was under water, to those who have family members that sold land to Duke Energy for the creation of the lakes. Each story creates a glimpse into our past and gives insight into the lives of our family and friends who lived and experienced something we can only imagine. The ultimate goal of this series is to introduce to the community a plan to create an oral history repository at the Oconee Heritage Center, jointly created and curated by the OHC and the OCPL. This program is sponsored by The South Carolina Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities; inspiring, engaging and enriching South Carolinians with literature, history, culture and heritage.