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Edwards' donation paved way for superhighway

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE  — One member of the late Harbert Edwards family admits to some sadness when he thinks about the old farm being turned over to the state to become part of U.S. 58 in Hillsville, but looking back they can see it as a selfless act to benefit the community.
Grandchildren and other family members turned out last Friday to remember Edwards’ forward thinking as local officials and Virginia Department of Transportation representatives dedicated a bridge over Little Reed Island Creek in his name.

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U.S. 58 eventually became a superhighway that links the state from Mount Rogers to the coast at Virginia Beach via Hillsville.
Carroll Supervisor Bob Martin, speaking for local officials, noted that continuing improvement to 58 in Laurel Fork and Patrick County are  "going to make a tremendous benefit for Carroll County and everyone traveling the road."
Edwards, born in May 1873, donated 500 acres of his farm on the west side of Hillsville, which laid the groundwork for the major highway, the supervisor said.
“This land donation provided a means to travel an improved road as opposed to the Old Galax Pike,” the resolution said. And Edwards, “prior to his death on May 11, 1943, exhibited considerable respect for others by giving land that he worked very hard to acquire and sacrificed for the betterment of the county, its citizens and other motorists using Route 58.”
His descendants gave more land as later opportunities to improve 58 arose.
The idea to name the bridge in honor of Edwards arose when Carroll officials worked with his family members on the route for the recently installed natural gas line.
Edwards grandson Roger Webb spoke for the family, noting that Edwards, who was born in Carroll, travelled out west as a young man to work on farms in Oregon and Missouri, eventually returning home.
U.S. 58, including the bridge and the bypass, stand on land that Edwards decided to split off from his farm for the road.
“This required an appreciable sacrifice on his part, but he had the foresight to recognize that everyone, including himself, would benefit from the construction of that road,” Webb noted.
More pieces of the Edwards farm have given way to expansions of U.S. 58, which made for mixed emotions for Webb.
“I am sad when I remember the farm as it was when I was a little boy, or when I see a road in the middle of what was once the home of my aunt and my grandmother,” he said. “On the other hand, when I see the road today, I see growth, and progress and hope for prosperity into the future, and I’m left with a feeling of satisfaction because I see how that land is being used for something that will continue to benefit everyone in the community.”
When Webb reflects on how important U.S. 58 is to the people of Carroll and Grayson counties, he believes dedicating the bridge to his grandfather is a fitting way to remember him.
The bridge dedication is “something his grandchildren and great-grandchildren can look at with pride and satisfaction,” Webb said.
Martin unveiled a sign with Edwards’ name and presented the resolutions from the local boards to members of the family.
Carroll’s supervisors, as well as Hillsville officials, agreed to pay the costs of placing the memorial markers on the bridge, the resolution says.