The Catawba River (named after the Native American tribes that first settled on the banks) originates in Western North Carolina and the name of the river changes to the Wateree River in South Carolina. The river is approximately 220 miles (350 km) long. It rises in the Appalachian Mountains and drains into Piedmont, and is impounded through a series of reservoirs for flood control and hydroelectricity. The river is named after the Catawba tribe of Native Americans. In their Siouan language, they identified as the Kawahcatawbas, "the people of the river".
It rises in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western McDowell County, North Carolina, approximately 20 miles (30 km) east of Asheville. It flows ENE, forming, along with the Linville River, Lake James. It then passes north of Morganton, then southeast through Lake Hickory just north of Hickory, NC, and into the Lake Norman reservoir. From Lake Norman it flows south, passing west of Charlotte, then flowing through the Mountain Island Lake and Lake Wylie reservoirs, where it forms approximately 10 miles (15 km) of the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, also the confluence of the South Fork Catawba River and Catawba River is submerged by Lake Wylie near the NC/SC state line. It flows into northern South Carolina, passing Rock Hill, then through Fishing Creek Reservoir near Great Falls, and then into the Lake Wateree reservoir, approximately 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Columbia. At the now-submerged confluence with Wateree Creek, it becomes the Wateree River.
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