Leaksville Landing historical marker

Leaksville Landing (J-91)

Port for bateau trade on Dan River. Improved by Roanoke Navigation Company, 1820s. Ruins visible at low water. 200 yards west.

Location: NC 87 (South Hamilton Street) at Dan River bridge in Eden
County: Rockingham
Original Date Cast: 1990

Attempts to overcome naturally occurring impediments to commerce and navigation in the early nineteenth century, such as the building of turnpikes, canals, and river improvements, characterized the era of internal improvements. The Dan River Navigation System constitutes one of the best-preserved examples of an internal improvement project in North Carolina. The most elaborate and costly navigation improvement structure constructed along the Roanoke and Dan Rivers was the Roanoke Canal, built 1819-1834 between Weldon and Roanoke Rapids. Other improvements, initiated locally but taken over by the Roanoke Navigation Company and eventually adopted by the federal government, opened up the whole river valley to bateau navigation and contributed to the growth of Milton, Danville, Madison, and Leaksville. The only known intact antebellum landing on the Dan River is that at Leaksville. Its use in bateau navigation lends it further distinction.

The beginnings of the town of Leaksville (combined in 1967 with Spray and Draper to form Eden) predate the era of internal improvements. The legislature in 1793 directed that a town known as Danville be laid out as a site for a tobacco inspection station. Four years later North Carolina’s Danville was renamed for local planter John Leak. Trade aboard bateaux (long canoe-type vessels generally measuring eight feet by sixty feet) flourished along the waterway. The Roanoke Navigation Company assisted bateaux navigation in the 1820s with a series of improvements to the Dan River. At the Leaksville Landing site are four “cribs,” made of logs and filled with rocks, used for docking. These structures were discovered in the summer of 1988 when drought conditions dropped the water level of the river.

Dan River Navigation System, National Register of Historic Places nomination (1984)
Philip M. Rice, “The Early Development of the Roanoke Waterway,” North Carolina Historical Review (January 1954): 50-74
Eden Daily News, July 4, 1989
William S. Powell, North Carolina Gazetteer (1968)

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