by chase E trea R and josh N
The Pigeon was for many years so polluted that is was biologically dead. The river ran a coffee brown for most of the 20th century, containing toxic chemicals such as dioxins, furans, and chloroform -- all from the Champion paper mill in nearby Canton. As noted by Joyce Combs "the Pigeon River was once so polluted that North Carolina classified the use of its waters to be for waste disposal." In the early 1990's the trend was reversed. the modernization of methods used at the paper mill led to significant reduction in the use and discharge of toxic chemicals. According to "a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services ... dioxin concentrations in fish samples taken from the river have decreased 99 percent since 1990." - Smoky Mountain News Jan. 31 2007. In the late 1990's snails and common mussels were reintroduced to the river - the river was again alive! Since 2000 more than 20 species of fish have been re-introduced to the river.