The Land Before the Waters

In partnership with the Oconee Heritage Center, the Oconee County Public Library will present a series of nine lectures in the spring and summer of 2016 about “The Land Before the Waters.” The speaker series will address the significant economic, environmental, and cultural changes to Oconee County that occurred with the creation of Lakes Hartwell, Keowee, and Jocassee. South Carolina Humanities supported this project with a Major Grant in February 2016.

Policy Director of the Georgia River Network, Dr. Chris Manganiello, will kick off the series on April 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Walhalla Library (501 W. South Broad Street, Walhalla, SC 29691). His lecture will be followed by Professor of Anthropology at Clemson University, Dr. Mike Coggeshall, on April 26 at World of Energy (7812 Rochester Hwy, Seneca, SC 29672), and New York Times bestselling author, Ron Rash, on May 5 at the Westminster Music Hall (101 W Main St, Westminster, SC 29693). Other speakers include scholars such as Dr. Robert Carey (May 12) and Dr. James R. Martin (June 2). In addition, Diver Bill Routh, who has dived in both Lakes Keowee and Jocassee, will also speak about his experiences on May 19. A panel featuring local historians and authors Debbie Fletcher, Claudia Hembree, and Jerry Vickery will take place on July 23 at the Oconee Heritage Center. The full list of programs with dates and times can be seen on SC Humanities’ calendar for April, May, and June:

“By engaging our community through educational outreach,” says project director Phillip Cheney, “we hope to provide an environment that will foster an exchange of history and personal memories that can be recorded for posterity and preserved for future generations.”

“The Land Before the Waters” will produce a dialog among community members about local history and start the conversation about how to preserve it. The series will complement an ongoing project by OCPL and OHC to produce an oral history repository titled “Voices of Oconee.”

For more information about “The Land Before the Waters,” contact Emily Embry at 864-638-4133 or 864-364-5701,


The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 22-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

Image of Lake Jocassee: By Clemson3564 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons