Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Old Names for the French Broad


I like lists and, recently, I discovered an intriguing list from the U. S. Board on Geographic Names. These are variant names for the French Broad River:

Agiqua
Broad River
John Frenchs Broad River
Poe-li-co
Satica
Tah-Kee-os-Kee
Tah-kee-os-kee
Tah-kee-os-tee
Tokeeostee
Tokeostee
Zillicoah




Charles Skinner, in Myths and Legends of our Own Land (1896) refers to the river by another of its old names, the Tselica:


Among the rocks east of Asheville, North Carolina, lives the Lorelei of the French Broad River. This stream—the Tselica of the Indians—contains in its upper reaches many pools where the rapid water whirls and deepens, and where the traveller likes to pause in the heats of afternoon and drink and bathe. Here, from the time when the Cherokees occupied the country, has lived the siren, and if one who is weary and downcast sits beside the stream or utters a wish to rest in it, he becomes conscious of a soft and exquisite music blending with the plash of the wave.

Looking down in surprise he sees—at first faintly, then with distinctness—the form of a beautiful woman, with hair streaming like moss and dark eyes looking into his, luring him with a power he cannot resist. His breath grows short, his gaze is fixed, mechanically he rises, steps to the brink, and lurches forward into the river. The arms that catch him are slimy and cold as serpents; the face that stares into his is a grinning skull. A loud, chattering laugh rings through the wilderness, and all is still again.

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