Centuries-old train trestle gets swept away in Danville floodwaters, River District businesses cleaning up

DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- Unprecedented floodwaters took over the river district Thursday, but it was what they left behind that has everyone talking.

"You need to come see it," said the Merricks family, who went downtown Thursday to check out the sights. "I've never seen anything like it."

A centuries old train trestle is laying across Craghead street. The floodwaters were so high that they lifted the trestle off its original structure. It floated across the street, hitting two cars.

Rick Barker, owner of Supply Resources, saw it happen.

"We were astonished when we saw it break through to the fence and it is now across the street," said Barker.

Barker's building, built in 1904, is right next to the trestle. Shortly after the train track came off its structure, the same fierce waters broke the front door to his business wide open. He watched as custom furniture floated in four feet of water across newly renovated floors. The store is covered in mud and sustained significant damage. Friends and family helped push water out of Supply Resources Thursday evening.

Barker bought the building four years ago after it sat vacant for more than 50. He said it was a labor of love, which makes the damage that much more difficult to swallow.

"That's off set by the fact that no one was hurt," said Barker. "All the furniture can be replaced, right?"

Craghead Street is still covered in mud.Lt. Michael Wallace with the Danville Police Department said there is no timeline on when they will be able to remove the trestle. The city's public safety agencies have been responding to calls all evening, but they will assess the situation in the morning.

According to the DFD they have had non-stop calls for water rescues, downed trees and power lines through out the city. The Dan River has reached a new high of 30 feet. It will continue to rise for the next day. Many roads across the city are closed and/or significantly damaged.

It was historic flooding that left it's mark on Danville's century old history. With each section of floor mopped at Supply Resources and each passerby looking in awe at the tracks, a new chapter.