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19th-century bateau pole pulled from river

A pole used to propel a bateau along the Dan River in North Carolina in the 19th century was dredged up by a fisherman and his family.

It was a sticky, hot Sunday afternoon. Jeff Overby, his wife, Jo-Lynn, and his cousin Jerry Chambers were doing what they usually do on weekends, casting their lines in the Dan River from Jeff Overby’s john boat.

They were about to give up, but as they floated near the spot on the edge of Draper where Town Creek spills into the Dan, Jeff Overby cast toward the left bank in shallow water and felt his 20-pound test line grow taut. As he reeled, he knew that the resistance could mean only one thing — he had something large on the other end.

Little did he know that he’d hooked one of the biggest things to come out of the Dan River in more than a century — and it wasn’t a fish.

“We thought it was just a stick,” says Jo-Lynn Overby, who reached out to grab it, hoping to salvage her husband’s Eagle Claw fish hook before tossing the stick back into the water. But when she lifted it, the stick was surprisingly heavy.

“So I just kept pulling it out of the water,” she says.

“And then, I got to the metal part.”

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