Four hours in Danville VA, August 21, 2018

I drove up to Danville VA on a recent Thursday, just to get out of town and to see somewhere that feels different from North Carolina.    Danville is only fifty-five miles north of Chapel Hill and I can drive there on two lane roads in about an hour.     The city limits of Danville abut the North Carolina / Virginia line.

About a hundred yards into Virginia I parked the Prius and took the Surly out of the trunk.


I have bicycled around Danville several times before, including about a year ago when Tootie and I drove up to Danville on a Sunday morning and then bicycled around, a trip that was not previously mentioned on this blog.  On that other trip over a year ago, Tootie and I both were temporarily insane (judgmentally challenged!) for about two hours.

We were so taken by the lovely large old houses in Danville, and their low prices, that we decided we needed to buy one.    We live in a condo in Chapel Hill on the seventh floor.   Like many people our age, we fantasize about moving somewhere or buying a second home somewhere.   Why not, instead of a beach house or a mountain house, why not buy a Danville Virginia house?   We could invite all our Chapel Hill friends and family up for long weekends!   We could host dinner parties in Danville!

OK,  we were temporarily insane.   We got over the idea.   On this current trip I did not really dream of buying Danville real estate, but I did enjoy biking around Danville and its several distinct historic neighborhoods.

While Danville is north of Greensboro and Durham, North Carolina, it is much more Southern than either of those places.   Danville had enormous textile mills that have pretty much all closed.  Danville has a significant wholesale raw tobacco business;  this too has declined.  Danville has not boomed like the nearby Triangle cities in North Carolina.   In 1920 Durham, Raleigh, and Danville were about the same population at about 21,000 each.    Now Durham is 260,000, Raleigh 465,000, but Danville is now just 43,000.

I biked from the Food Lion down a steep hill.  Danville is full of steep hills.   To get off the main road, I bicycled first through a poor neighborhood.




Coming up from the south, I then biked into a previously wealthy neighborhood that is  remarkably intact.   I would call this the southeast side of town.








This red brick house is for sale, $ 154,900 for 4376 square feet, seven bedrooms, five baths,  and it looks to be in pretty nice shape.

check out the real estate listing.,-79.396794,36.578165,-79.405355_rect/16_zm/

Just north of this neighborhood is the downtown, then a warehouse district.   Five or ten years ago most of these brick warehouses were empty, now they are slowly coming to life.   It is certainly not hipsterville but it is making progress.





Five years ago I would not have believed that Danville would have a coffee house.   They do not have Starbucks yet, but they do have the Crema and Vine.  I stopped for my afternoon latte.


I bicycled across the Dan River and through hilly middle and lower income neighborhoods on the other side.

I like mini-golf, which is easier to play than the real thing.  This place looks really old school.  I wish I had had someone to play with.



Back on the south side, I bicycled across a steep ravine to the relatively prosperous west side of Danville, the area near Averitt University.   This is another historic neighborhood.


Further west is what remains of the huge Schoolfield textile mill of Dan River Inc.    This is what it looked like back in the day.Image result for schoolfield mill


It closed in 2006 and was sold off brick by brick; the used bricks being one of the few things of value.    They left one concrete building and the smokestacks.

2 responses to “Four hours in Danville VA, August 21, 2018”

  1. I really enjoyed reading about your latest bike trip to Danville. I had a friend from high school move there in the 90’s and I would spend some weekends with here. Boy does it look rundown from those days. I remember the coal ash spill in 2014, maybe it took its toll on the town. I especially liked your picture of the mini golf and your comment you wish you had someone to play with. When you and Tootie come to dinner we have a par 3 less than 4 miles if you guys are interested in playing 9 before dinner. Speaking of which can’t wait to see you both!kb

  2. Bruce Burnette Avatar
    Bruce Burnette

    Just found your travel blog when I did a search for something in Chase City,Va. I live in Pittsylvania county, east of Danville, and enjoyed reading your biking into Danville. I grew up here, and remember Danville in it’s heyday.

    2019 and Danville is still trying to reinvent downtown. I think I have biked all the areas you covered over the years, after growing tired of riding the Riverwalk trail in Danville.

    I am also an avid biker. You should consider taking a long drive up to Covington, Va, to ride the 16 mile long Jackson River Scenic Trail. It is so beautiful and the best maintained trail I’ve ever been on.

    I don’t visit Danville as often as I used to, preferring to shop or viait either South Boston or Chatham.Va
    But I am glad you visited Danville BTW, Danville does have a Starbucks near the Mall. I am always heading west to the mountains to places like Stuart, Marion, or up to Bath and Highland County,Va.
    Also like to ramble in NC, places like Danbury, Sparta, Mt. Airy.

    Finding your travel blog will give me hours of reading pleasure, and maybe give me an idea of somewhere new to go!

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