Crossing of the Dan

It’s hard to turn around in Halifax County without bumping into history.

From beautiful homes that tell the story of generations gone by to entire festivals dedicated to our heritage, we are quite blessed to have reminders of yesteryear.

And now, one of those reminders — a pivotal point in American history no less — could become a national park.

Last week, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, along with town councils from South Boston and Halifax, approved a joint resolution promoting the Crossing of the Dan site in South Boston for possible inclusion in the National Park Service System.

The Crossing of the Dan in 1781 became a turning point in the American Revolution, precipitating events that led to the British surrender at Yorktown.

South Boston Town Manager Tom Raab said establishing a national park on the banks of the Dan River will provide a means of honoring American Revolutionary War Hero Gen. Nathanael Greene.

Today’s historians hail Greene as the most successful strategist of the American Revolution, Raab said, calling the retreat at the Crossing of the Dan one of the most masterful military achievements of all time, and making his role in the War for Independence only second to General George Washington.

Each year around Feb. 14, the Crossing of the Dan is celebrated with a plethora of events. For local students, it’s a time to realize that this country’s history unfolded right in our own backyard. 

Weather permitting, re-enactors stage the famous crossing — yes, literally crossing the river — for hundreds of spectators.

Because of its historical significance, the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution, has recognized the Crossing of the Dan as a nationally sanctioned event.

A national park would provide an opportunity to promote tourism and economic growth in a region with a lackluster job creation track record. 

While sometimes scoffed, tourism is a major industry in Halifax County.

Luring more folks to discover the history of how this county formed would be a monumental benefit to South Boston and Halifax County. Those visitors need places to eat and sleep, bringing in more tax revenue for the towns and county.

And while they are here, they can discover the small shops and businesses that are often a hidden gem to travelers.

Who knows, perhaps there’s even a niche market for a business to capitalize on historical souvenirs.

Raab said it’s fitting that the nation give tribute to Greene through the establishment of a national park in his honor to be located in South Boston.

It’s time we think outside the box to attract more tourists to our great county.

Bravo to the leaders who are making this happen.