On June 5, DRBA volunteers will lead a 10.5-mile float on Dan River from Danville, VA to historic Milton, NC. The take out point is less than a mile from Aunt Millie's Pizza Subs & Suds, a do-not-miss locally owned restaurant in the heart of Milton. Several antique stores are also located nearby.
We'll meet at 10:00 a.m. at Anglers Park in Danville to begin the float (GPS coordinates: 36.5584, -79.3566). Rated as Class 1, this relatively flat stretch is suitable for novice paddlers.
We'll pass through six navigation sluices built in the early nineteenth century to deepen the channel for massive batteaux that carried cargo on the river. These structures still provide easy passage through the rapids, as well as colorful names from the era when the river served as the only highway into the region: Julius Allen's Sluice, Noble's Shoal Sluice, Dix's Shoal Sluice at Hogan's Creek, Wilkinson's Shoal Sluice at Moon Creek, Thomas's Fish Dam Sluice below Rattlesnake Creek, and Dodson's Fish Dam Sluice.
Fish dams, built by Native Americans and early settlers, are low V-shaped or W-shaped rock structures that funneled fish into waiting nets or baskets as they returned seaward from their massive spawning runs. Descendants of these huge fish populations, now trapped by the dam at John H. Kerr Reservoir, are celebrated with the striped bass tournament each April at Angler's Park.
About a mile below Angler's Park is the site of Dix's Ferry where President George Washington crossed the Dan on his southern tour on June 4, 1791. Farther downstream is Bursted Hill, a cone-shaped hill like a sugar loaf rising 130 feet on river right, first reported in a paper before Benjamin Franklin's American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in 1790.
The outing will conclude at the public boat landing at Milton (Mill Town), founded in 1796 and, like Danville, a town that was a batteau port. For more information and illustrations of the surrounding region, see Maps 27-32 of "An Insider's Guide to the Dan River." (danriver.org)
Participants in the outing are asked to bring boat and paddles, life jacket, lunch and water, to dress in layers of artificial (quick-drying) fabric and to sign a waiver. Boats may be rented from Three Rivers Outfitters www.3-R-O.com, which will provide shuttle as well.
DIRECTIONS: To reach Angler's Park, exit the Danville Expressway (US 58/US 29 By-Pass) at Dan Daniel Park exit. Turn east on River Park Drive (the opposite direction from Dan Daniel Park). Turn right on Northside Drive; bear left at the front gate of North Water Pollution Control Plant to Angler's Park, the southernmost point of the Riverwalk Trail.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Trip Coordinator Will Truslow firstname.lastname@example.org.