DRBA’s First Saturday Outing set

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The Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) on Sept. 7 the will paddle 6.5 miles of the Dan River from Milton, N.C. to the public access at Leggett’s Bottom where US 58 crosses the river in Halifax County, Virginia.
Participants are asked to meet at 10 a.m. at the Milton Public Boat Landing on Route 62 south of Danville. The outing is free and open to the public. For boat rentals and shuttle, contact Three Rivers Outfitters, 336-627-6215, www.3-r-o.com.
DRBA helped the Roanoke River Basin Association in developing the Leggett’s Bottom Access using funds from Duke Energy. Previous outings planned for this section had to be moved to Farmer Lake because the river was dangerously high. DRBA hopes for good conditions this time.
Coordinated by Wayne Kirkpatrick, DRBA board member and expert paddler, the Class I section offers smooth waters and high banks, making it feel like a float through wilderness. The exception is passage near Virginia International Raceway early in the float, where the rumble of racecars on the VIR track may be heard for a mile or so on race days.
Kirkpatrick notes that there is a small rapid under the Route 62 Bridge, which, like most highway bridges, is anchored on rock. From then on, “flat but moving water” extends the entire float, making it “very novice friendly.” On river right half a mile downstream from the bridge is the mouth of Country Line Creek, so-called because in colonial times it separated the “countries” of North Carolina and Virginia. This float, which begins in Caswell County, N.C., quickly crosses into Virginia, weaving back and forth across the Halifax/ Pittsylvania county line.
Other creeks of note that enter from river left are Sandy Creek and Wolfe Creek. Sandy Creek’s impressive five-arch stone trestle, not visible from the river, now carries the Ringgold-Sutherlin rail trail over the creek. In the nineteenth century it carried the Richmond & Danville Railroad, which expanded the region’s access to trade.
About halfway through the trip are three impressive stone piers from the Milton & Sutherlin Narrow Gauge Railroad, built in 1878 to connect Milton to the Richmond & Danville Railroad.
“In early American history, our rivers were key to community development, serving as our highways. During the 19th century they were replaced by rail lines, such as the Richmond & Danville and the Milton & Sutherlin railroads. Today, our rivers are serving as recreational highways, recapturing some of the past history as integral to community quality of life,” Kirkpatrick said.
That quality of life extends to enjoyment in the waning days of summertime. Participants may observe turtles, herons, ducks, hawks, and songbirds along the river.
At the take-out, exiting up the steep bank is made easy by the boat slide alongside steel steps anchored by a broad, firm base. DRBA participants will lend a helping hand where needed. Since parking is limited, a short shuttle back to the Milton Access will be provided by Three Rivers Outfitters.
Outing participants should supply boat, paddles, life jacket for each boater, water and lunch or snacks; wear water-shedding synthetic fabric or wool (not cotton or jeans); and be prepared to get wet. All participants will be asked to sign a waiver.
For trip information, contact trip coordinator Wayne Kirkpatrick, 540-570-3511, wynbtyk@embarqmail.com.
For information about the Dan River Basin Association, visit www.danriver.org.

A Dan River paddler notes an impressive rail trestle piling below Milton. The outing is open to the public, free of charge.