A View From the Bridge: Edsel Floyd Honored in Watertown

On July 22, the State of Tennessee will honor one of its most distinguished citizens in a ceremony inaugurating the Edsel Cordell Floyd Bridge in Watertown. The bridge, which spans Round Lick Creek, is part of Highway 70, the two-lane road that threads the center of the state from the mountains of East Tennessee through the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee to the flatlands of Memphis and the Mississippi River.

The state House and Senate voted to honor Floyd, 76, for his many decades of public service in l
ocal government, the military, community affairs, charitable activities and church work. Floyd, who was born and raised not far from the bridge that now bears his name, has served as mayor, postmaster, deacon and songleader, football announcer, lay preacher, feed store merchant, train robber (for charity), and mentor and father figure to generations of Watertown youth. His favor and influence have often been sought by office-seekers at the local, state and national level.

He is also an amateur historian and archaelogist of some renown, with an extensive collection of Native American artifacts unearthed largely in plowed fields throughout the region. The nationally noted collection contains some of the oldest and best-preserved arrowheads yet found in Tennessee. In later life, Floyd turned to painting, and pro
duced several outstanding landscapes embodying the now nearly-vanished spirit of the land around Watertown, before ill health curtailed his artistic work.

Floyd is widely known for his dry, earthy wit, and the rough-hewn charisma that has made him a popular speaker for decades at political rallies, community functions, and revivals. A frequent subject of media interviews and stories over the years, he has also been featured in two country music videos shot in Watertown, by Garth Brooks and Aaron Tippin.

This is not the proper venue for your correspondent to speak of the love and admiration he has for the honoree -- feelings which in any case could not possibly be encompassed in words. But we did think it fitting to note, as a matter of public record, the dedication of the bridge to Edsel Floyd, one of the few living people in Tennessee ever honored in this way.