Join DRBA in October for NC's Big Sweep
DRBA's October 2nd Outing to be a Cleanup from Madison to Jacob's Creek as part of NC Big Sweep.
DRBA's October 2 outing will be a 5-mile cleanup float on the Dan River from Madison to Jacob's Creek. Meeting at 10:00 a.m. at the NC 704 Access in Madison (36.3849, -79.9550), we'll paddle through seven navigation sites, well-preserved nineteenth century river structures now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Coordinated by DRBA President Wayne Kirkpatrick, the cleanup is part of NC Big Sweep, the statewide component of an international watershed cleanup. Participants record the types of trash they find, contributing to statistics that help design educational programs to prevent littering.
The navigation structures, built in the 1820s and expanded as late as the 1880s, include sluices, landings, and wing dams that made the river usable by flat-bottomed batteaux, the long, narrow workhorses of nineteenth century river commerce in the region.
According to river historian Lindley Butler, "The structures channel the water through rapids and ledges that would have blocked the batteaux, each of which carried several tons of goods. Present-day recreational users enjoy the effects of these structures, which have been self-maintaining for over 130 years.
"Because of the navigation system, this section is rated as Class 1, suitable for novice paddlers. The work done in the 19th century enables us to float the Dan throughout Rockingham County even in times of extreme drought."
Below Madison, which was chartered in 1815 as the head of batteau navigation, points of interest include the confluence of the Mayo River and Roberson's Fish Trap Sluice, which incorporates a widened fish weir originally built to collect fish making their great spawning runs upriver from the coast.
Cross Rock Rapid, which provides footings for the US 220 Bypass Bridge, is followed closely by Slink Shoal Sluice and Wing Dams, recognized by a nearby state historic marker. Called the navigation system's "crown jewel," Slink Shoal consists of the longest sluice, or channel, and the only surviving log-crib wing dams on the river.
Boaters will stop for lunch at Lone Island, the site of a ford that was in use by 1769 and served as a crossing during the Revolutionary War.
Revolutionary-era Governor Alexander Martin lived on the bluff above Jacob's Creek Landing, which is just upstream from the private take-out, used by permission of the owners.
More information may be found on Maps 54-56 of An Insider's Guide to the Dan River, available at www.danriver.org. Participants are asked to bring boat, life jacket, gloves, lunch and water, to dress in layers of artificial (quick-drying) fabric and to sign a waiver. Trash bags will be provided.
Boats may be rented from Three Rivers Outfitters, 336-627-6215 or Dan River Campground, 336-427-8530.
Directions: To reach the NC 704 Access Point from north or south, take US 220 to the Madison, NC exit at NC 704. Turn west on NC 704 toward Madison. At the first traffic light, turn right onto Market Street (small brown sign directs to Dan River Access). Go two blocks, and turn right onto Murphy Street. Cross the railroad tracks and turn right at the bottom of the hill onto Water Street. Continue under the bridge. The access site is on the left.
From the east, take NC 704 to Madison and follow the directions above.
From the west, take US 311 to Madison. At the traffic light just past the brick Methodist Church, turn left onto Market Street. Go two blocks, and turn right onto Murphy Street. Cross the railroad tracks and turn right at the bottom of the hill onto Water Street. Continue under the bridge. The access site is on the left.
For more information, contact Wayne Kirkpatrick at (276) 694-4449.