Great Pee Dee at Cheraw
Historical Photos

Until the Civil War, several steamboats such as the Pee Dee, Maid of Orleans, Osceola, Swan, Anson, Marion, Robert Martin and Chesterfield operated on the Pee Dee River carrying goods from the Georgetown-Charleston area to Cheraw, the farthest point north the goods could be carried by river. After the Civil War, a railroad was built between Wilmington and Charlotte which brought an end to the need for goods to be shipped to Cheraw. In 1907, the Cheraw and Georgetown Steamboat Company was organized and two boats, the Ghio and Merchant, purchased.  The Merchant made its first trip July 7, 1908, and this picture of it was taken during its first year of operation as evidenced by the damaged covered bridge.
Covered Bridge--The first covered bridge across the Pee Dee was built in 1823 but was burned during the Civil War. The second covered bridge, pictured here in the early 1900's, was built in 1866 and remained until the flood in August, 1908, washed away all but a short section on the Cheraw side. The town immediately began work on a new steel bridge which, at 600 feet, was the longest of its type in the state. The short portion of the covered bridge that had not been washed away, was still used to enter the steel bridge from the Cheraw side. The steel bridge was destroyed after the present one was built farther upstream in 1938.
When the Carolina Central Railroad was constructed between Charlotte and Wilmington shortly after the Civil War, steamboat traffic on the Pee Dee between Cheraw and Georgetown was discontinued. Following a government survey of the river in 1892, it was once again cleaned out and the Cheraw and Georgetown Steamboat Company began operation in 1907 with two boats, the Ghio and the Merchant. The present location of the boat landing at Riverside Park was where goods were unloaded and transported up the hill to a depot by means of cable track. Improving roads brought the need for river traffic to an end by the early 1920's.
The Cheraw and Georgetown boat, the Ghio, shown at the Pee Dee River landing loading cotton to be shipped to markets in Georgetown.  (Photo from "Historic Chesterfield County, SC" and the collection of Glen Oliver.)
The Merchant--Moses Rogers, captain of the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, commanded a steamship on the Pee Dee River around 1819 between Cheraw and Georgetown. An 1822 newspaper records that the steamship Pee Dee took four days and six hours to make the trip between the two towns. Other steamships to operate on the river during the 1800's included the Maid of Orleans, the Osceola, the Swan, the Anson, the Marion, the Robert Martin and the Chesterfield.  In this photo from the early 1900's, the Merchant can be seen docking in Cheraw at the present location of Riverside Park with passengers and goods. The first trip of the Merchant took place July 7, 1908.
The Ghio--The Ghio is loading in Cheraw for a trip to Georgetown.  The railroad tracks from the loading area at the dock can be seen in the background. 
The Ghio--Steamboats ushered in the beginning of widespread trading in Cheraw, as the town became the port for distribution to the surrounding counties in North and South Carolina.  The Ghio was one of the steamboats to navigate the Great Pee Dee River.  The Cheraw to Georgetown route was used for many years. 
Cheraw and Georgetown Steamboat Company Warehouse--In 1907 the Cheraw and Georgetown Steamboat Company was formed to revive trade on the river. A tram track led from this Church Sheet warehouse at the top of the river hill to the Great Pee Dee River below. Goods were brought up by a pulley arrangement and stored here safe from the river's flooding. The company continued to operate with every other day service until 1914. This building, one of the few left from the steamboat era, burned in 1988. Pee Dee Baptist Church is visible in the background.
Covered Bridge Floods--At 12:20 pm, August 27, 1908, the covered bridge across the Pee Dee River in Cheraw was swept away by flood waters.  The bridge belonged to the city of Cheraw and was valued at $20,000.  The entrance portion was all that remained after the flood.  There had been an old toll house at the bridge, also.
New Steel Bridge--Soon after the flood of 1908 that destroyed part of the covered bridge, the citizens of Cheraw began raising funds to rebuild a much stronger bridge.  The longest such span in the state, 600 feet long, was built of structural steel trusses.  A portion of the old covered bridge remained at the western entrance. 
The Iron Bridge--Wooden planks were used as decking on the road bed of the old steel bridge that was built in 1908 over the Great Pee Dee River in Cheraw.  The bridge was in use for nearly thirty years.  It was referred to as the "Capital to Capital Route, Columbia, SC to Raleigh, NC."  In 1938, another replacement bridge was under construction.
Pee Dee River Bridge--600 feet in length--Jefferson Davis Highway--Cheraw, SC
Nearly Flooded Bridge on the Pee Dee
Railroad Bridge Nearly Flooded on the Pee Dee
A 40-foot freshet sweeping over the "dam", toll house, and bridge.  (Photo from "Historic Chesterfield County, SC" and the collection of May MacCallum.)
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