Last week we discussed Jackson County’s 185 named summits, a number I determined several years ago by counting up the mountains from an online list. I also wondered about the number of local waterways and looked without success for a similar roster of streams.

When one wasn’t readily available, I called on my husband, Richard, who loaded his topo map CD into his computer and inventoried them for me.

Counting all the rivers and both forks of the Tuckaseigee, he determined there are 250. That means we have 65 more named creeks and branches than mountaintops.

Our most visible river is the Tuckaseigee, which runs almost the length of Jackson County, but we also have four others – the Oconaluftee, Chattooga, Whitewater and Horsepasture.

When it comes to named tributaries, the Tuckaseigee wins hands down, having almost seven times more creeks and branches (192) emptying into it as its nearest rival, the Oconaluftee (26). And an examination of the territory just beyond our county reveals that the Oconaluftee is actually a tributary of the Tuckaseigee. The rivers’ waters converge just a short distance after the Tuckaseigee flows into Swain County.

The Tuckaseigee’s largest branch is its East Fork, which flows out of the county’s Canada section. Some 42 named streams flow into it, and Richard counted a number of other tributaries that aren’t named. Of the East Fork tributaries, three – Tanasee, Wolf and Bear – lend their names to lakes and powerhouses that generate electricity. Built during the 1950s by Nantahala Power & Light Co., the projects are now part of Duke Power’s system.

In second place is the river’s West Fork with its 32 feeder streams. Duke’s largest local hydro project, which consists of Lake Glenville and the Thorpe generating station, is on this branch of the Tuckaseigee.

Taking third place is Scotts Creek, the stream that runs through downtown Sylva. From its headwaters in the Plott Balsams, to its confluence with the Tuckaseigee in Dillsboro, Scotts Creek has 28 named tributaries.

Many of these do double duty and lend their names to the roads that follow them. Cope Creek, Allens Branch, Kitchens Branch, Monteith Branch, Fisher Creek, Blantons Branch, Parris Branch, Buff Creek, North Fork, Sugarloaf, Dark Ridge and Woodfin all fall into this category.

Though I would have guessed Caney Fork would closely follow Scotts Creek with regard to number of tributaries, it’s Savannah Creek that is in fourth place with 22.

Again, there are a lot of road names here, including Cagle Branch, Sutton Branch, Brooks Branch, Greens Creek, Brushy Fork, Peewee Branch, East Fork, Long Branch and Little Savannah.

Caney Fork ranks fifth with 21 smaller streams flowing into it. Among the best known are Sugar Creek, Johns Creek, Brasstown, Moses Creek and Chastine Creek.

Cullowhee Creek is a distant sixth, with 11 tributaries.

Duplicate creek names are not unusual, even on the same river system. “Long Branch” is a popular name: there’s one in Dillsboro, one in Cullowhee, one that flows into Savannah Creek and one that flows into Canada’s Wolf Creek. There’s also a Wolf Creek on Cullowhee Mountain that flows into Cullowhee Creek.

By the time it reaches Dillsboro the Tuckaseigee has already gathered most of its water. Of its almost 200 feeder streams, only 25 more join the river before it flows out of Jackson County.

Lynn Hotaling was editor of The Sylva Herald for 18 years, retiring in January 2016. She is the author of two books on local history.