Living in Danville

Danville ... a Rich History and a Promising Future

Danville is located in the south central part of Virginia adjacent to the North Carolina border.  The City is rich in heritage and history. The city is built on the banks of the Dan River which originates from the west in Meadows of Dan, Virginia high in the Blue Ridge Mountains and flows eastwardly to the Atlantic Ocean. The Dan River was named by William Byrd in 1728 who was so impressed with the beauty of the land that he supposed himself to be in the land of plenty. Reflecting on a biblical reference he is said to have felt as though he had traveled “from Dan to Beersheba”.

Danville has been an important site of commerce, agriculture, and manufacturing. More recently it has become an important site for advanced biological research, information systems development, and auto racing center. Native Americans had long come to the Falls on the river. The first settlement in Danville was named “Wynne’s Falls,” after the first settler and the water falls in the river. In later years the falls provided a site for one of the first hydroelectric plants in the United States.  The village was renamed Danville by act of the Virginia Legislature in 1793. During the late 1700’s tobacco was a popular crop in the Dan River Region. Because of the water access for shipping tobacco on the River, one of the first large tobacco warehouses was built here. Danville became a trading center for tobacco and tobacco products. It continued to grow over the years until in recent decades it was termed the world’s best and biggest tobacco market.

Parallel to the growth of tobacco was the growth of cotton and subsequently the textile industry. The Dan River hydroelectric plant furnished power for an ever increasing large textile manufacturing industry. At one time the largest single-unit textile mill in the world was located here.
During the War Between the States, Danville was a thriving community of some 5,000 people.  It was a strategic center for the Confederate army including a quartermaster’s depot, rail center, military hospital, and a prison of war camp.  The then six tobacco warehouses were converted into prisons, housing at one time more than 5,000 captured Federal soldiers. Danville was the Last Capital of the Confederacy in the home of Major W. T. Sutherlin on West Main Street.  The house is now the Danville Museum of Fine Arts.

Danville was immortalized in song following the Wreck of the Old 97 in 1903 when the Southern Railway’s crack express mail train, was running behind schedule.  Its engineer “gave her full throttle,” but the speed of the train caused it to jump the tracks on a high trestle overlooking the valley of the Dan. “His body was found in the wreck with his hand on the throttle”

From the early years of water based commerce, through years of tobacco and textile manufacturing, Danville has evolved, as the world has evolved, with new forms of industry and opportunities.  New industries and educational centers have emerged as agriculture based manufacturing diminished.

Living in Danville ...

Danville is by nature is a southern city. Daily living is easy with a warm easygoing Southern hospitality atmosphere. People are friendly and all usual family needs and services are conveniently available. The city has a large historical area where antebellum and Victorian age homes have been restored and preserved to capture a previous age. A number of homes in Danville have been featured in the Southern Living magazine.

The city has several providers of high speed internet service and there is cable and satellite TV available. Winters are mild while summer can be warm and often humid. Snow is rare although there typically are several ice storms from December through February. Domestic and international air travel is available nearby at either the Greensboro or Raleigh-Durham airports in North Carolina. North-South AMTRAC trains are available in Danville daily. All faiths have congregations in Danville.

Danville provides extensive recreational opportunities. Danville has one of the most scenic walking and biking trails along the Dan River. The seashore is within 4-5 hours drive either in the Virginia Beach area or North and South Carolina beaches. Fishing and boating are nearby on the Dan River as well as one hour north on the massive Smith Mountain Lake. Just over one hour west of Danville is the Blue Ridge Parkway with cool majestic mountains. Snow skiing is available in the winter two hours away at Wintergreen Mountain Resort. Within 2 hours of Danville there are many excellent Virginia wineries.

Outstanding collegiate educational, sports and culture opportunities can be found at Averett University and the Danville Community College as well as near-by at Duke, Virginia Tech, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Danville has more places of worship per capita than any other community in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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