Revisiting downtown Danville

May 21, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

My family makes an annual trek to Danville, Virginia to attend our family reunion.  Over the years we have seen many changes especially as we come down that hill on Route 58.  Always looking for the mill in the distance even in the night time it would be lit up like Christmas.  Nowadays, the mill has closed down and the essence of the mill "HOME OF DAN RIVER" is no longer showing us the way. IMG_3244 The sign was torn down a few years ago because it was aged and a hazard to safety.  I can still see it in my memories and it will be forever burned in that memory.  The other buildings on this side of the river are also gone.  The mill was a major employer in the area since the late 1800's. Founders of the Riverside Cotton Mills established the Dan River Power and Manufacturing Company mainly for the waterpower of the Dan River and in 1909 Riverside and Dan River merge to form Dan River Cotton Mills. dan river 1 During WWII the mills employed over 14,000 workers to operate 12 weaving and spinning mills filling orders for the military.  In the 1960's the textile world was beginning to change and imports began to take away from the American mills which started the slow demise of Dan River Mills.  It closed it's doors in 2006 with the last of the mill moving oversees and the collapse of the textile industry. 

I still have several quilts that my Great Grandmother made from the fabrics of the Dan River mills - where she worked as a young woman all three shifts over time before she finally retired.  I remember going up to Schoolfield to the mill stores and buying fabric on 8-12 foot high reams! The real feel of cotton and the way the sheets felt after being washed and hung out to dry will stay with me forever.  To this day, I have never found another sheet that was made as well!!

IMG_3222 This is the main street bridge (or what I have always called it.  I remember when it was only two lanes as we crossed it to go to see my Aunt Sis' hair shop which was just on the other side of the bridge.   IMG_3587 It was a hoping beauty shop back in the 60 and 70's.  What awesome hairdos came from that shop...beehives as tall as the Eiffel tower they would say. 

 

We took a few left hand turns and ended up down by the train station.  There is a lot to see and do in this section, the Amtrak station is part of the Danville Science Center. 

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They offer many exhibits that include large stuffed game animals, animals native to the region, butterfly collections, geology area downstairs and out side is a butterfly garden which was my favorite of the day's adventure!

 

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The Butterfly garden was filled with some beautiful sights, even as the train roared by the gardens remained calm in spite of the rumble and the noise of the whistle...guess nature has adapted to their surrounds and everything is in harmony.

 

IMG_3480 This is my sister Brenda who will not be happy that I put this pic in my blog, but she will forgive me sooner or later...love you! 

 

Thanks for spending the day with me...hope it was not too boring!

 

 

Next we took a long walk across the Dan River on an old railroad trestle...my Mom walked across this bridge many times to come to town on a Saturday.  She grew up in Glenwood but it was never to far to walk to town, back in the day everyone walked to get to their destination :)  

 

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IT WAS A GREAT DAY OF FISHING FOR THIS MAN...He was catching catfish and claimed that one day he caught one as big as his leg!! 

 

He had three poles with lines out and he was not happy with the boaters on the river for fear of snagging his lines.  

 

I do not think I would want to reel in a big fish that far up from the river, but then this old man looks like he could handle the situation with no problems :)

 

This road is Highway 58 and the other bridge is also an active railroad bridge.  My father had an automobile accident in the famous curve and his mark is left where the yellow stripes are...paid a pretty penny for the the dent he left too.

 

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The railroads played an important role in the development of the City of Danville.  The history is rich and interesting, guess it is in my blood!

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IMG_3555 IMG_3584 So cool to see these still on the side of the buildingIMG_3561 IMG_3563 My great-great-great grandfather worked as a "cooper" in this vicinity of the tobacco district back in the 1880's.  The business was ET Ferrell and Company and it was located on the corner of Lynn and Loyal.  Coopers made barrels of all sorts used for whiskey, dry goods, washing clothes and so much more.  

IMG_3564 We had a great afternoon strolling through the old part of downtown Danville...seeing where our ancestors worked gave us a sense of what it may have been like for them.  I really feel a connection when I find something from my past...it is part of what I am today.

 

Enjoy your day...hugs!


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