Float

The Banister River’s pre-1827 King’s Bridge stone pier and nearby wing dams are among the historic treasures featured on DRBA’s June 6 float, which is free and open to the public.

For its June 6 first Saturday outing, the Dan River Basin Association will return to a section of the Banister River for the first time since 2016.

Halifax town manager Carl Espy who is trip coordinator for the 6.2-mile float from King’s Bridge Landing (VA Scenic Byway 360) to Terry’s Bridge (Highway 360) said the trip was still being planned at this time but could be changed pending further updates of COVID-19.

Boats and gear may be rented from Three Rivers Outfitters in Eden, North Carolina, 336-627-6215, www.3-r-o.com.

Participants will meet at King’s Bridge Landing, 1041 Bethel Road, Halifax, VA, GPS (36.776946, -78.916697), at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 4 to set the shuttle and begin the float. Directions may be obtained at http://www.danriver.org/interactive-map.

Portions of the riverine environment have changed very little since the time Colonel William Byrd, II traveled through the “charming low grounds” when returning to his Westover Plantation near Richmond from North Carolina with John Banister III, the son of Virginia’s first naturalist and English clergyman, for whom the river was named.

“We pitched our tents upon Banister River, where we feasted on a young buck which had the ill luck to cross our way.” A Journey to the Land of Eden in the Year 1733.

For a century this section of the river was plied by flat-bottomed batteaux, the “semi-trailers” of nineteenth century watercourse commerce.

“If the Banister is running low and clear, you’ll be able to see the remains of 19th century batteau sluices and many other interesting features,” said Espy.

“This particular section of the river,” he continues, “has sparked a great deal of interest with local historians, area planners, naturalists and a variety of state agencies because of its rich historic, cultural and natural features,” including what The Dan River Atlas terms “some of the best preserved batteau sluices in Virginia.”

63.3 miles of the Banister, which flows past the town of Halifax, are designated a State Scenic River. It is a tributary of the Dan River sub-basin and the Roanoke River Basin. From roaring rapids to tranquil creeks, the Virginia Scenic Rivers System reflects the diversity of Virginia’s natural landscape. Each scenic river possesses outstanding aesthetic, natural, historic and recreational features.

The 50th anniversary of the Virginia Scenic Rivers Program in 2020 is an occasion to celebrate these special rivers and the communities that care for them; go to: https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/recreational-planning/sr50

Participants are asked to meet at 10 a. m. at King’s Bridge Landing, 1041 Bethel Road, Halifax, VA, GPS (36.776946, -78.916697), on the west side of Virginia Scenic Byway 360 just north of downtown Halifax. Dress in synthetic fabric, be prepared to get wet and bring boat, paddles, life jacket for each boater, lunch and water. Although the trip is not technically demanding or hazardous, all boaters will be asked to sign a waiver.

To reach the put-in from U.S. 58 at South Boston, turn north on U.S. 501. Continue 1.4 miles onto Broad Street, which becomes Wilborn Avenue. Drive 0.5 mile, and then continue 4.6 miles onto US 501/Halifax Road, which becomes Main Street in the town of Halifax. When U.S. 501 turns left, continue straight onto Bethel Road (VA 360) for 0.2 mile to the landing.

All First Saturday Outings of the Dan River Basin Association are free and open to the public.

For further information about the trip, contact Espy at 434-470-1424 or espy4@mindspring.com.

For information about the Dan River Basin Association and updates, visit www.danriver.org or find them on Facebook.