Photo of the Great Dismal Swamp by heymarchetti used under a Creative Commons license.
Charles Royster, The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company: A Story of George Washington’s Times (Vintage, 2000).
On both sides of the Virginia-North Carolina border, but mostly on the north side of the border in Virginia, not far from the ocean, lies the Great Dismal Swamp. In 1763, a group of investors, among them the war hero George Washington and other notables, founded the Dismal Swamp Company to drain, develop and profit from this land. This history of the company is a window into the finances and dealings of Virginia’s eighteenth-century elite, who made their fortunes speculating on land and growing tobacco and usually owed staggering debts in London.
Here is Royster’s bio at Louisiana State University, where he teaches. Nate Oman says the narrative works nicely. Mangum calls it a fine book but thinks it falls a bit short of its potential. Dennis Berman (Business Week) says it requires uncommon endurance. T.S. says Royster synthesizes political and business history. Bibb Edwards read it on the swamp. Elizabeth H. Smith collects writings on the Great Dismal Swamp. John Tidwell wrote about the swamp for American Heritage. Here is the site for the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge — 250 years later, still wild.