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DRBA previews new phase of trail in Patrick
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Hikers walk along Phase II of the Mayo River Rail Trail in Stuart on Saturday. The Dan River Basin Association celebrated its 12th anniversary by previewing the walking, jogging and bicycling trail, which has not yet been built. The trail will be about 3 miles long. (Contributed photo)

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Dan River Basin Association celebrated its 12th anniversary Saturday during an event that also featured a preview of Phase II of the Mayo River Trail.

Chris Owens, of the Patrick County Tourism Advisory Council, was the guest speaker at the event. His presentation was titled “Patrick County Tourism Strides.”

The program included a brief look at possible future plans, such as investing in signs that would be placed at entry roads into the county and other areas, as well as forging partnerships to create outdoor recreational opportunities in Patrick County.

Owens and the advisory council — which focuses on promoting attractions in the county — primarily does marketing around the Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem areas of North Carolina to encourage residents there to visit Patrick County “and enjoy the beauty and serenity.”

One attraction in those marketing efforts is the multi-use Mayo River Trail. On Saturday, people at the DRBA anniversary event could preview the second phase of the trail, although it has not yet been built.

DRBA board member Wayne Kirkpatrick said Phase II will be situated downstream of the current half-mile trail. It will pass through land owned by the Landmark Group, crossing the group’s private road as the trail winds to Woodlawn Drive. From there, it will cross Woodlawn Drive to Stuart Rotary property.

It then will follow the edge of the soccer fields to an intersection of the Dick & Willie’s original rail bed, Rhody Creek and the Mayo River. Walmart is visible from that point, Kirkpatrick said.

The Dick & Willie once was part of the Norfolk Southern Rail. The cost of building the railroad was funded by the sale of subscriptions to residents. The line was completed in 1884, and Stuart — known as the Depot — was the end of the line. A hand-operated turntable was used to turn the trains around.

On Saturday, participants could explore Phase I of the approximately total 3-mile walking, jogging and bicycling trail.

That portion of the trail opened in September 2009. Since then, kiosks with historical photos and a brief story about the rail-line have been installed at each end.

The new Patrick County logo (which features the outline of mountains in the background and railroad tracks in the foreground) is featured prominently on the kiosk signs, as are historical photos that give users the ability to almost step back in time.

One photo portrays a day in which a locomotive jumped the turntable. Men used jacks to set the locomotive back on the turntable. A picture depicts downtown Stuart in the 1900s. In another, two men sit on the cow catcher (front) as a locomotive heads into the town. Another old photo shows the former Stuart Hospital — Mothers Home Private Sanitarium.

Kiosks also include a trail map, as well as a list of rules for users.

Work on the $1.2 million trail project — hailed as an investment in recreational opportunities for area residents and an amenity to help attract businesses — has been underway since 2005.

The trail also helps to further DRBA’s goals of preserving and promoting the region’s rivers and culture through education, recreation, stewardship and regional identity.

DRBA, a nonprofit organization, began in 2002 to preserve and promote rivers in the border region of Piedmont North Carolina and Virginia.


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