Stella’s Day Trips

42

Danville and Western Railway Trails

The Danville and Western Railway once travelled from Danville to Stuart, but now where old track is unused, it serves as a guide for two trails:  The Dick and Willie Passage, located in the heart of the City of Martinsville, and the Mayo River Rail Trail, situated in downtown Stuart. 

Both are accessible, well-maintained, and a nice calm–a short distance removed from the hustle of day to day. Both trails allow walking and biking, and passersby offer friendly greetings.

The Dick and Willie Passage

A hint of history lingers in the faint smell of creosote, warmed in the sun. Though the traffic is in sight, the prevalence of bird songs and river streams outplay the high overture tones of wheels, which create their own melody, rolling on asphalt.

The newly paved path, often lined by wooden fences and pines and faint pink dogwoods, smoothly charts a way through the forest and along a small creek. The vibrance of the blue sky partners with large, fluffy white clouds floating high above the trickles, the bubbling music of the water. Sweet scents permeate the scene, dancing a relaxing pace away from the fading cars on neighboring roads. 

Deep cherry blooms of low-lying crown vetch, golden dandelions and fuzzy moss carpet the edging, creating peace, an isolation in the center of robin songs; sunshine and solitude—in the midst of a busy town.

Directions:  from Roanoke, take 220 South to Business 220 South to Martinsville/Collinsville. Take a left on Kings Mountain Road/VA 174 toward Patrick Henry Community College. Continue past the college, take a right onto Clearview Drive and a quick left on Stutz Road. The address is at 699 Liberty Street. This section is part of the longer 4.5 mile out and back trail and is flat. Other sections are intense and hilly.

The Mayo River Rail Trail

Level with the river, the Mayo River Rail Trail meanders comfortably along in sunlight, surrounded by open lawns and farmed fields. The wind through willows waves beach-like breezes, warm, and cool. Pure river water, clear to the rocky bottom. Tadpoles swim and grow in a swampy puddle, and a baby blue sky mirrors its gaze—the reflections hold tightly to moments that pause time.

Town living continues in the distance while the river provides tranquility, sandy damp soil and a manicured landscape featuring crepe myrtle and indigenous plants, unbothered by the path or its travelers. Remnants of factories and old buildings lie near, but silenced — the past drowned by the bold river flowing and the smell of freshly cut grass and honeysuckle and Virginia Creeper climbing through trees and undergrowth. Clover and English ivy blanket fields, the fragrance subtle and sweet.

The paved and weathered trail is cracked by roots from massive red maples, oak, and wild cherry trees that shade nearly half the route. The river’s edge is enhanced by alder bushes, brown sparrows and fishermen and families picnicking on checkered blankets and lounging in chairs and on benches. The far end of the trail rests a red caboose which once belonged to the Danville and Western train, now parked at its final stop.

Directions:  from Roanoke, take 220 South and turn left Woodland Drive/VA-835. Take a right onto Commerce Street. The Mayo River Rail Trail is at 108 Commerce Street in Stuart.

 Email questions/suggestions to: Stella Lane—email:  stellatripsfordays@outlook.com.