During the 18th century River Road was a part of the main stage route between New York and New Orleans, and the principal road from Halifax County Courthouse to Danville. It was the most heavily traveled road in the County.
In the early part of the 19th century the rich soil along the Dan River produced a wealth of tobacco, which was the main export crop from America to Europe. It was about the middle of that century that large plantations began to appear along the road.
In the years before the Civil War most of the wealth of the County was centered along River Road. As fortunes rose so did the mansions, a notable gathering of showplaces equal to any in Virginia in style and elegance.
Kenneth Cook, the late historian, described River Road as "being that portion of Highway 659, a little more than 16 1/2 miles in length, from Osborne's Corner to Cedar View near the Pittsylvania County line." It is so named because for more than half its length it follows the Dan River. It is only when it nears the village of Elmo that the river drops southeastward, away from the highway.
In our present age of efficient mass transit and interstate highways, it is hard to picture those huge, horse-drawn coaches lumbering along at what would now seem a snail's pace, axle-deep in the mud at times, carrying passengers to the Louisiana Purchase and other parts of the opening west.
1827 Herman Boye "nine-sheet map" segment of Halifax County
River Road is a Virginia Byway.
Begin your tour at Green's Folly.
For more information on the history of the South Boston/Halifax County area, visit:
The South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts & History
1540 Wilbom Avenue
Phone: (434) 572-9200
Wednesday - Saturday 10:00 - 4:00
Sunday 2:00 - 4:30