The Black River begins in Sampson County and flows sixty-six miles before emptying into the Cape Fear River fourteen miles above Wilmington. The water is black because unlike the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers, the Black River does not have sediment deposits, and its water is more acidic. Earley traveled two months on the river discovering its history and exploring the natural surroundings. Once a commercial thoroughfare, the river has again returned to its ancient ways. The steamboats and naval stores industry are gone. Some of the towns have fallen into ruin. No industries pollute it; no dams interrupt it; and no reservoirs disturb its flooding patterns.