Slink Shoal Sluice historical marker

Slink Shoal Sluice (J-90)

Dan River improvements built 1820s by Roanoke Navigation Co. include sluice & wing dams 1/4 mi. E. Rebuilt, 1880s.

Location: US 220 Bypass at Dan River bridge east of Madison
County: Rockingham
Original Date Cast: 1989

Attempts to overcome naturally occurring impediments to commerce and transportation in the early nineteenth century, such as the building of turnpikes, canals, and dams, characterized the era of internal improvements. The Dan River Navigation System constitutes one of the best-preserved examples of a 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. Most of the alterations made to the two waterways during the 1820s and 1830s were sluices and wing dams. Taken as individual structures, they would be of little import, but taken as a whole they represent an important and, at one time vital, transportation system.

The most significant and best-preserved example of such navigation improvement structures is at Slink Shoal east of Madison on the Dan River as it courses through Rockingham County. Construction was recommended at that site in 1823 by engineer Isaac Briggs. Work by the Roanoke Navigation Company commenced soon thereafter and continued through the antebellum period. What can be seen at the site today, the remnants of an 800 foot long sluice and four sets of long wing dams, is principally the result of expansion or renovation by the federal government, 1884-1885. The remains begin at a point 1,000 feet downriver from the US 220 Bypass bridge and extend for 1,400 feet.

Dan River Navigation System, National Register of Historic Places nomination (1984)
S. T. Abert, “Survey of the Dan River Between Danbury, North Carolina, and Danville, Virginia” (1874)
Lindley S. Butler, “The Dan River Navigation Structures in Rockingham County” (1983)

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