Virginia is really an interesting and diverse state with five distinct regions – the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, the Blue Ridge, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, and the Appalachian Plateau. You can be dipping your toes in a native trout stream in Nelson County, then four hours away, toss a crab line in the Mattaponi River.
In this series, we’ll do a little exploring from time to time of our fair state beginning with a trip across the eastern section of Route 58.
Route 58 is an east/west highway spanning the entire southern range of our state. It kicks off at the Tennessee line passing through mountain country – The Cumberland Gap and Abingdon – the very heart of Appalachia. Next, the middle section, Hillsville, the Meadows of Dan and across to Danville. The last third from roughly South Hill to Norfolk is one I experienced last week. I had never travelled this stretch until I was heading from Winston Salem to the Eastern Shore, from South Hill over to Norfolk. Let me describe it to you.
Excuse me, I dozed off there for a minute. That’s because there is almost nothing in this stretch, at least until you hit the outskirts of Suffolk. The eastern-most part of Rt. 58 consists mostly of pine trees with occasional fields of peanuts, soy beans and sorghum. If there is a cow along this route, I didn’t see it. Not horses nor sheep nor any livestock. Houses and small farms are few and far between. I believe there are more people living in the Forest Lakes Subdivision north of Charlottesville than in all of the area from the eastern part of Mecklenburg over and through Brunswick County.
But it is a peaceful, serene drive. It’s four lane all the way with few towns and stop lights. You can actually make really good time due to the lack of traffic. I’m telling you – there’s nobody there.
After South Hill, the first town of consequence is Lawrenceville, population 1,400. If you are low on gas, get some here. It will be a while till you see another station. Emporia is in the middle of this nowhere stretch. Emporia has maybe a half dozen gas station, a couple of fast food joints and – ta-da – a Cracker Barrell. At the end, you’ll hit Franklin and then through the sprawling metropolis called Suffolk and then to Norfolk. For the most part, this is desolate country, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s nice to take a drive and just get away from it all. On this section of Rt. 58, you definitely will.