Dismal Swamp

views updated May 17 2018


DISMAL SWAMP, an immense wetland in North Carolina and Virginia covering about 750 square miles. In the center of the swampland is circular Lake Drummond, 3.5 miles in diameter. The swamp was named by a wealthy Virginia land speculator, William Byrd, in 1728, and four thousand acres of it were owned by George Washington. During the eighteenth century the area was the subject of land speculation by wealthy easterners. It was immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in

"The Slave in the Dismal Swamp." In the 1970s a controversial drainage and agricultural development program aroused conservationists. Although today it is a National Wildlife Refuge, water is drained from the swamp to help maintain water levels in the nearby Intracoastal Waterway.


Royster, Charles. The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company: A Story of George Washington's Times. New York: Borzoi Books, 1999.

James ElliottWalmsley/h. s.

See alsoWetlands .