Whoever said you can’t move a mountain ought to spend a little time on Keith Whittaker’s spread in southwest Roanoke County.
In May, the 70-year-old Australian was up to his eyeballs in dirt. Thousands and thousands of tons of the stuff.
Full dump trucks rumbled up his driveway near the base of Bent Mountain dozens of times a day, depositing huge loads of it.
It came from the widening and straightening project about 4 miles north along U.S. 221. That two-year, $20 million job finally got under way this year — it’s been on the drawing board since the mid-1990s.
By the time the trucks quit coming in August, the retired heavy equipment mechanic had 150,000 cubic yards deposited on his 35 acres. It filled in a deep ravine on his once steep former woodlands.
Today outside Whittaker’s back door lies a broad and somewhat grassy plateau — 2 to 3 acres, he says. (It looks more like 5 acres to me.) The open land is quiet. Deer frolic on it; wild turkeys graze the millet that the dirt-haulers planted.
“The deer put footprints everywhere,” Whittaker said. “The turkeys are unbelievable.”
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