The bottle's 160-mile journey recently came to an end in Santee, South Carolina.
South Carolina Message in a Bottle
Credit: Erik Richardson/Facebook

A very special bottle's 42-year, 160-mile journey recently came to an end in Santee, South Carolina. Erik Richardson discovered the timeworn 7Up bottle while scouting for ducks on the banks of Lake Marion with a friend. Richardson, a Clemson University horticulture student, shared his find on Facebook.

"Best we could tell it just had some old gum wrappers and some metal beads or something rolling around in it, but it had us curious," Richardson recalled.

It took a fair bit of effort, "the top was virtually welded shut and we didn't have any pliers," but eventually they got it open. Inside they found a hand-written letter, chewing gum and beechnuts. Richardson was shocked that the letter, dated April 10, 1976, was still legible.

South Carolina Message in a Bottle Letter
Credit: Erik Richardson/Facebook

"To the finder, I am in the 6th grade," the letter begins. "I am twelve years old. I let this bottle go where the tiger rivers meet. I was fishing. I have 1 sister - 3 dogs - and plenty of friends. When you have finished reading this write another and let it go downstream. Your pal, Mark."

Richardson posted photos of the bottle and its contents on Facebook, asking for help finding Mark, who would now be in his early 50s.

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"This bottle had quite the adventure," he wrote alongside the photos. "It started out near Spartanburg, SC, traveled down the Tyger River, onto the Broad River, through Parr Reservoir, down the Congaree, and through Columbia & Congaree National Park to end up at its final resting place on Lake Marion. Who knew one little bottle could go so far in 42 years!"

The post quickly garnered 4,600 likes and more than 3,000 shares and in no time, Mark was found.

"**Update** Thanks for all the likes and shares!" Richardson added to the original post. "I just got off the phone with Mark and he was overjoyed to hear that his bottle survived so many years!"

Richardson didn't share details of the conversation, but he did hint that one day he might send a bottle of his own downstream.

"Maybe I'll take his advice and let a letter of my own go downstream sometime," he concluded.