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Eden, North Carolina
Leaksville Commercial District
Leaksville Commercial District
Nickname(s): 
Tri-City, Land of 2 Rivers
Motto(s): 
"Small Town, Big Outdoors"
Location of Eden within North Carolina
Location of Eden within North Carolina
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
County Rockingham
incorporated September 12, 1967
Government
 • Type City Council
Area
 • Total 14.36 sq mi (37.18 km2)
 • Land 14.20 sq mi (36.77 km2)
 • Water 0.16 sq mi (0.41 km2)
Elevation
591 ft (180 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 15,527
 • Estimate 
(2019)
14,886
 • Density 1,048.53/sq mi (404.85/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
27288-27289
Area code(s) 336 Exchanges: 623,627,635
FIPS code 37-20080
GNIS feature ID 0984623

Eden is a city in Rockingham County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Eden is the largest city in Rockingham County and is part of the Greensboro-High Point Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2020 census, the population was 15,421. From the late nineteenth century through much of the 20th, the city was a center of textile mills and manufacturing. The city was incorporated in 1967 through the consolidation of three towns: Leaksville, Spray, and Draper.

Geography

Eden is located at 36°30′23″N 79°44′42″W / 36.50639°N 79.74500°W / 36.50639; -79.74500 (36.506434, -79.745092). The Smith and the Dan River have their confluence on the south side of Eden. The Dan River flows along Eden's southern border while the Smith River flows from the north bisecting the city on its route to meet the Dan River. The city of Greensboro is 25 miles (40 km) Southwest and Reidsville is 11 miles (18 km) Southeast of the City.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.2 square miles (39 km2), of which, 15.0 square miles (39 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (1.12%) is water.

History

Danville and Western Leaksville
Leaksville (now Eden) station of Danville and Western Railroad, 1912

Eden was a 70,000-acre (280 km2) estate owned by William Byrd II, a planter of Virginia and North Carolina. The estate was originally called "The Land of Eden".

During the last years of his life, William Byrd II dreamed of bringing large numbers of Swiss Protestants to the "Land of Eden", which eventually included over 100,000 acres (400 km2) in Virginia. He envisioned an industrious, self-sufficient colony that would thrive on the abundance of the frontier. Byrd's dream was not to be realized. After years of negotiations, at least one boatload of Swiss did sail for "The Land of Eden" from Europe, but it was shipwrecked in a December gale off the coast of Virginia, and none of the few survivors are believed to have reached Eden. Byrd died August 26, 1744, as the "Land of Eden" began to be surrounded by the settlement of Scotch-Irish, whom Byrd had compared to the "Goths and Vandals."

"Eden" descended to William Byrd III, who shared none of his father's dreams of colonization. Young Byrd married Elizabeth Hill Carter in 1748. He sought to dispose of Eden to gain cash to support his grand lifestyle. He was finally successful on November 8, 1755, when he sold 26,000 acres (110 km2) in North Carolina to two merchant brothers from the island of Antigua, Simon and Francis Farley. By this time, settlement was increasing at a considerable pace. The Farley brothers attempted to create plantations on some of the richest acres, but more frequently, settlers squatted on the land and built homesteads. In 1762 James Parke Farley, son of Francis Farley, went to Williamsburg to attend the College of William and Mary and soon married Elizabeth Hill Byrd, daughter of William Byrd III and Elizabeth Hill Carter.

Many later settlers migrating to the Dan River Area knew little of William Byrd. They were familiar with an old Indian village in the area near Town Creek and the Farley holdings. This location became the center of settlement, and the 26,000 acres (110 km2) came to be called the Sauratown tract. In 1775, James Parke Farley and his new bride moved from cosmopolitan Williamsburg, Virginia, to the Sauratown. Farley claimed that Sauratown was his, created new plantations, and attempted to drive off the squatters. He built a home overlooking the Dan River. Farley was also a member of the 3rd Provincial Congress that met at Hillsboro. In 1776, the family left the Sauratown perhaps because of her dislike of frontier life. James Parke Farley was killed during the Revolutionary War, leaving his wife and four daughters to fend for themselves, and Sauratown was unmanaged. Farley's widow married Reverend John Dunbar, who attempted to manage Sauratown but failed. Finally, the Governor became involved in settling the legal interests of the Farley heirs. The 26,000 acres (110 km2), became a magnet for settlement due to its proximity to the Petersburg-Salem road that crossed the Smith River at an island ford. In 1795, the town of Leaksville was established on the southwest edge of the Sauratown along the main road. Joseph Cloud resurveyed the tract and divided it into two equal shares in 1798. A year later, Farley's daughters, Maria Farley and Rebecca Parke Farley, sold their shares to Patrick Henry of Virginia, the man who delivered the "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" speech. Henry, on his deathbed June 6, 1799, gave the land to two of his sons, Alexander Spottswood Henry and Nathaniel West Henry. In the century that Sauratown was in existence many still prominent families settled in the "Land of Eden", including the Brodnax, Dillard, Ruffin, Morehead, Henry, and Winston families. Many Scots also settled in the area, including the Galloway, Scales, Watt, Lenox, Campbell, and Moir families. Other residents of the county have included General Lighthorse Harry Lee. On the third weekend of September; Eden hosts The River Fest each year to celebrate Eden's history.

19th Century to present

  • In 1967, the three cities Leaksville, Spray, and Draper were consolidated into one city which is now the city of Eden.
  • In 1970, the city experienced a growth in population.
  • In 2000, city population grew to 15,908.
  • In 2010, the US Census population was 15,527.
  • In 2014, thousands of tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water spilled into the Dan River near Eden from a coal-fired power plant owned by Duke Energy.

The Boone Road Historic District, Bullard-Ray House, Cascade Plantation, Central Leaksville Historic District, Dempsey-Reynolds-Taylor House, First Baptist Church, Dr. Franklin King House-Idlewild, Leaksville Commercial Historic District, Leaksville-Spray Institute, Lower Sauratown Plantation, Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, Site 31RK1, Spray Industrial Historic District, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Tanyard Shoal Sluice, Three Ledges Shoal Sluice, and Wide Mouth Shoal Sluice are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 3,382
1970 15,871 369.3%
1980 15,672 −1.3%
1990 15,238 −2.8%
2000 15,908 4.4%
2010 15,527 −2.4%
2019 (est.) 14,886 −4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Eden racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 9,400 60.96%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 3,952 25.63%
Native American 62 0.4%
Asian 147 0.95%
Pacific Islander 4 0.03%
Other/Mixed 700 4.54%
Hispanic or Latino 1,156 7.5%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 15,421 people, 6,581 households, and 3,976 families residing in the city.

Regional and national awards

All-America City Award - 2011

Transportation

Eden is provided service by Piedmont Triad International Airport located in nearby Greensboro, North Carolina and Shiloh Airport located in Stoneville, North Carolina. Highways serving Eden include US 311, NC 14, NC 87, NC 135, NC 700, and NC 770. The nearest Interstates to Eden are I-73, I-40, I-85, from closest to furthest. Closest major highway to the city is US 220 / Future I-73, which intersects NC 770 in Stoneville, and NC 135 in Madison.

Culture

Festivals and Events

Each year in September Eden host it's annual Fall Riverfest which celebrates the city's art, history, and river heritage. It's located on the "old" Leaksville shopping district on Washington street the oldest downtown street since 1917. Others include: Charlie poole Music festival that features music legends such as, mike seeger and the Osbourne brothers. The Eden chamber of commerce created the Eden business Expo offers owners of local businesses to present career opportunities, products, and services. Oink and ale presents a block style summer filled with Entertainment, beer, and the city's best BBQ.

Eden Museum

On September 19, 2009 the museum had its ribbon cutting at the time while the city's permanent displays was unveiled. In 2010, the exhibits were completed. The museum is an initiative of the Eden Preservation Society. The museum reflects on the city's history from the consolidation of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper, Triassic era, Saura Indians, William Byrd, civil war, Korean war and much more.

Smith River Greenway

The Smith River Greenway is a walking trail consisted with the Smith River that is 1.5 miles long extending along the Eden Family YMCA located on Kennedy street and Island ford landing filled with plenty of interesting plants and wildlife found in the trail. From a circumference view the Greenway can cross the smith river on meadow road. Local parking, picnic shelters, and restroom facilities are offered at the trailhead for visiting tourist. The City's next plan for the Greenway is to extend the trail towards the Spray dam.

Major industry and economy

Eden Mall facade
Eden Mall in 2020

Benjamin Franklin Mebane started the first of his six textile mills in the area in 1893. Marshall Field took over the company in 1912 and named it Fieldcrest. The company made textile products that included bedding: sheets and blankets. It employed more than 3000 people. After taking over Cannon Mills in 1986, the company became known as Fieldcrest Cannon; it later moved its headquarters and 110 employees to Kannapolis, North Carolina. Changes and restructuring were affecting the textile industry throughout the South, as companies moved manufacturing operations to areas with cheaper labor, including offshore.

In 1997 Fieldcrest Cannon was sold to Pillowtex. Pillowtex closed its Eden plants in 2003, laying off the last 495 textile workers.

Miller Brewing Company ran a brewery in Eden into the early 21st century. In 2012 it still employed nearly seven hundred people, and produced nine million barrels annually. Miller announced in 2015 that it was shutting down the brewery by September 2016. In September 2020, it was announced Nestle Purina will move into the old MillerCoors facility and will open in 2022.

In February 2017, it was announced that the European-based German grocery store Lidl had broken ground on a store in Eden. It was expected to open in early 2018. As of April, 2019, the store had not opened.

In 1980 the Eden Mall, an approximately 400,000 square feet shopping center, was constructed. The mall began to decline in the 1990s when its Kmart store closed. More stores began to shut down, culminating in the departure of Peebles in 2008. The mall's physical condition deteriorated over the following years. It was sold in 2013 and subsequently leased out to local businesses.

Sports

The Leaksville-Draper-Spray Triplets was a former Minor League Baseball team combined from three separate towns in North Carolina. The team played from 1934 through 1942 in the Bi-State League, winning the championship titles in 1935 and 1942 seasons. It was the Affiliate team for various current and former Major League Baseball teams such as, the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Wilkes-Barre Barons. Some Major League Baseball alumni include: Wes Ferrell, Fred Archer, Tal Abernathy, Joe Frazier, Forrest Thompson, among others who played extensively at the minor and major league level.

Parks and recreation

The city contains the following parks:

  • Bridge Street Center
  • Freedom Ball Field Complex
  • Freedom Park
  • John E. Grogan Park
  • Mill Avenue Recreation Center
  • Mill Avenue swimming pool
  • Morgan Road Community Center
  • Peter Hill Park
  • Washington Street Park
  • Spray (Dehart) Community Center
  • Smith River Greenway
  • Skate Park

Education

Rockingham County Schools serves the City of Eden. The Rockingham County School System was established in 1993.

Elementary schools

  • Central Elementary School
  • Douglas Elementary School
  • Draper Elementary School (closed 2019-2020)
  • Leaksville-Spray Elementary

Middle and high schools

  • James E. Holmes Middle School
  • John Motley Morehead High School

Colleges and universities

  • Rockingham Community College – Wentworth, NC

Notable people

  • Clint Barrow, aka Harlem Bravado, professional wrestler for Ring of Honor wrestling
  • Houston Barrow, aka Lance Bravado, professional wrestler for Ring of Honor wrestling
  • Tabitha Brown, actress and internet celebrity
  • Herb Clarke, former weatherman and television journalist for WCAU
  • Ben Cook, actor, appeared on NBC's 30 Rock, and HBO's Veep
  • Norwood Creek, film and television producer, director and editor
  • Antico Dalton, retired NFL and Canadian Football League player, World Bowl and Grey Cup Champion
  • Carol M. Highsmith, Visual Documentarian of America for the Library of Congress
  • Jennifer King, first full-time black female coach in NFL history
  • Takayo Siddle, college basketball coach
  • Edwin Wilson, professor at Wake Forest University
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