February 6, 2016


February 6, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM
Further Information:
Wayne M. Kirkpatrick

Dan River Basin Association to Visit Reynolds Homestead

Guided Hike and Tours on February 7

The Dan River Basin Association’s First Saturday Outing on February 7 will be a visit to Reynolds Homestead in Critz, Virginia, including a one-mile loop hike and tours of the historic house and grounds. Participants will meet at 10:00 a.m. at the entrance to the Continuing Education Center at Reynolds Homestead (GPS 36.640596, -80.146542), to begin the day’s activities.

An outreach campus of Virginia Tech, Reynolds Homestead features the birthplace and boyhood home of tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds and a Forest Resources Research Center in the midst of 780 acres of fields and woodlands.

“The Reynolds Homestead and forestry-practices hike is easily DRBA’s most popular and best attended hiking outing,” according to DRBA board member and trip coordinator, Wayne Kirkpatrick.

Since DRBA’s visit to the site two years ago, changes that have occurred along the hike route include significant growth of the young stands of lob lolly pines and the installation of three engineered stream crossings.

Along the way hikers will see the historic spring that inspired the name, Rock Spring Plantation, of this eighteenth-century tobacco estate near the face of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Views from the trail include the nearest peak, the curiously named No Business Mountain, so called, according to tradition, because visitors had “no business” looking for the family’s still.

In 2010 two major improvements were made at the Homestead. The African American Cemetery was enhanced with plantings, grave markings, fencing, signage, and a walkway for visitors. A new gateway entrance was dedicated in October, 2012 honoring the tobacco and aluminum foil legacy of the Reynolds family. Visitors to the Continuing Education Center can view drawings of planned renovations to the Center.

In addition, a log tobacco barn was reconstructed near the trail from materials salvaged from three early barns, including the one on site. The barn will help interpret the history of tobacco growing and curing that formed the foundation of the Reynolds family fortune.

Afternoon tours of the state and national landmark historic site will be offered at a cost of $3.00 per adult and $2.00 per student, payable to the tour guide. Built in 1843, the two-story brick home was restored in 1970 to its nineteenth-century state and includes many of the original family furnishings.

The son of Hardin and Nancy Reynolds, R. J. Reynolds was born here in 1853. In 1874 he moved to Winston, North Carolina and established a tobacco factory, which grew to a multi-million-dollar company. When he died in 1918 at the age of 65, he was the wealthiest man in North Carolina.

The grounds feature several outbuildings, including a log ice house and log granary, a brick milk house, and a brick kitchen. In the kitchen hangs a picture of Kitty Reynolds, a slave who tradition says saved Hardin Reynolds’s life by distracting a raging bull. In 1880 a landmark U. S. Supreme Court decision resulting from the flawed murder trials of two of her sons guaranteed protection of legal rights of formerly enslaved persons.

Participants in the outing should supply water and lunch, wear hiking boots and layers of water-shedding artificial fabric or wool, and be prepared for rain or wind. All participants will be asked to sign a waiver.

Reynolds Homestead is located at 463 Homestead Lane, Critz, Virginia. From Martinsville, travel west on US 58 for about twenty miles. Turn right onto Abram Penn Highway (Rt. 626), indicated by the second of two brown signs. Drive about three miles and bear left onto Homestead Lane. Parking is at the end of the short road.

From Stuart, travel east on US 58 for about nine miles. Turn left onto Abram Penn Highway (Rt. 626), indicated by a brown sign. Drive about three miles and bear left onto Homestead Lane. Parking is at the end of the short road.

From Winston-Salem, travel north on NC 8, crossing into Virginia. Turn right onto Ayers Orchard Road. Drive about six miles and turn right onto South Fork Loop. Drive half a mile and turn right onto US 58. Drive one-quarter mile and turn left onto Abram Penn Highway (Rt. 626), indicated by a brown sign. Drive about three miles and bear left onto Homestead Lane. Parking is at the end of the short road.

Outings and meetings of the Dan River Basin Association are open to the public without charge.

For more information, contact Wayne Kirkpatrick, 540.570.3511, wynbtyk@embarqmail.com.

For membership information, visit www.danriver.org.

Suggested photo caption:

Reynolds Homestead in Critz, VA, birthplace of R. J. Reynolds, is the site of the Dan River Basin Association’s guided hike and tour on February 7.  The public is invited to this First Saturday Outing without charge.