Where the trees part, and the sight and rush of the Catawba River first announce themselves, the connection to the river, if not understood, is at least sensed.
"People immediately become quiet when they reach the river," said York County Culture and Heritage Museums Deputy Director for Interpretation, Owen Glendening.
Sixty acres along the river is the site where CHM is building a new museum. Glendening just won approval for the new museum's interpretive master plan, which means actual design work can begin.
The master plan features a metaphoric "Front Porch," a place where people can sit in a rocking chair, view and listen to the river and its birds, perhaps enjoy a butterfly garden. Hikers on the Thread Trail can stop for water. The Front Porch will even feature a water fountain for dogs.
The river, both metaphorically and actually, will run through the new museum because the Catawba is the reason we are all here. The Nation Ford trail, a shallow shoal that once provided a crossing for native animals, also was discovered by the early inhabitants who would become Catawbas and settle along its banks. The wagon road that brought other settlers here also crossed the Catawba at Nation Ford.
That type of local history and much more will be emphasized at the museum, which will be the centerpiece of the environmentally-friendly Kanawha community that's also in the works. Plans for the museum show it will be interactive for people of all ages, but especially children.
Museum officials said they are more than halfway toward meeting a $50 million fundraising goal. Part of the revenue will come from Kanawha.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the museum project can call Culture and Heritage Museums Contributions Manager Pat Holman at 329-2121.