Share Your Memories of the E&A Railroad and Elkin History

Do you have photos and/or Remembrances of the Elkin & Alleghany Railroad?

As many citizens know, the Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA) is working to build a trail on part of the decommissioned Elkin & Alleghany Railroad bed that ran from downtown Elkin to the base of Stone Mountain.

To help support our efforts we plan to publish and sell (in October 2012) a history book about the Elkin & Alleghany Railroad.

Dan Bray of Swan Creek has generously donated to the EVTA all of the original photographs and materials from his seminal study on the E & A Railroad that was published in 1979.    We plan to expand on his already splendid work.

Our group of writers in the EVTA is searching for additional photos and remembrance.  We can digitally scan negative, photos, prints, post cards or other materials to add to the book.  The owner keeps the originals and we’ll have a digital copy for posterity.

Incidentally, the EVTA has collected and digitalized hundreds of photos of old Elkin and other communities in the Elkin Valley.  If you have any old photos you would like digitalized and saved, please share those with us too.

We’d like to give a shout out to the Elkin Tourism Development Authority and Nu-Line Printing for their help with copying and mounting these old photos for a permanent exhibit that will be on display next year.

Perhaps even more important, the EVTA hopes to include in this book a series of personal remembrances about the E & A Railroad.

Do you know any bits of history told to you or from personal experience about the engines, cars, shop, the engineers or firemen, stories about the construction, episodes about the convicts who worked on the construction, shipping and hauling up to Veneer and Devotion, any connection with the Elkin Valley Post Office and Depot, etc.?

If so, we’d really like to interview you and, if you are willing, we’d like to add interesting stories to our book.  Your input will make the book so much more interesting to readers and significantly to the knowledge of the Elkin Valley and all the communities that the E & A Railroad served.

Call Randall Ray at 828-215-9694, or email randallraync@yahoo.com or call me at 835-4630 or email at wjblackley@gmail.com and we can arrange for someone to interview you and to digitally scan materials related to the E & A Railroad that you would share with us.

All the work on this book together is being done by EVTA volunteers and all income from sales will go to the EVTA for trails construction and improvement.

When the first section of the trail is complete, we are planning to place twelve historical markers with photographs of old trains, bridges, dams, factories, etc. along the route.    Each marker will display a QR code that a smart phone can access and link the trail walker to the EVTA website where we will host a story about each site.  See the Elkin Valley Trail Association website under construction at:  elkinvalleytrails.org

Next Trail Workday: March 10 – Join Us!

Please join us for two trail workdays and help make Elkin trails happen!

Saturday, March 10, 2012:  E & A Rail Trail;

Meet at Elkin Municipal Park parking lot on the right-hand side of the Recreation Center at 8:45.  We will leave promptly at 9am and will carpool/shuttle to a nearby access point of the future E & A Rail Trail, and will be clearing a portion of the old E & A railbed.  Please don’t be late or you’ll miss the shuttle!  Sandwiches are being donated by 21 & Main for all our volunteers…thanks Jeff, Erika and Staff!  So please reply to myfrienddenise@gmail.com if you plan to attend the workday so that we may get a head-count for sandwiches and shuttles to the site.

Saturday, February 18, 2012:  Crater Park Campsite and Trail;

Meet at Crater Park in Downtown Elkin along the Yadkin River at 9 am.  We will be clearing in preparation for the riverfront campsite for Yadkin River Trail users, and for a riverfront section of trail.

What to bring…don’t stay home if all you have is your hands!

Gloves, loppers, rake, shovel, maddox, chainsaw, wheelbarrow, other small gardening/landscaping tools, small first aid kit.

Wear boots or shoes and clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty, and be prepared for weather.

Be sure to hydrate…bring water and food if needed.

See you there!

What’s all this talk about a trail from Elkin to Stone Mountain?

The answer is simultaneously simple and complex. It all started with a group that formed in 2011 and called themselves ‘Vibrant Elkin.’  They are focused on improving area economics.

The group agreed on a mission founded on the principle of increasing quality jobs and quality of life for the betterment of Elkin Valley citizens. The area encompassed is basically from the Yadkin River west and northwest to Stone Mountain in Wilkes County and east and northeast toward Dobson and Pilot Mountain. Though Elkin is at the hub geographically, the goal is to work to economically improve the entire region, including Jonesville and adjacent areas across the river.

As one of three prongs of action, the group determined to create an environment more conducive to business recruitment and retention.  They wanted to make this area ‘an even better place’ for ‘all of us’ to live, work, raise kids and grand kids and retire.

To that end they studied the literature about what would make an area a better place to live. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that people want good local entertainment, education, social life and recreation as well as good jobs.

One of the ingredients identified as important for quality of life was access to open spaces, trails, rivers, creeks, fishing and, as importantly, a sense of history and tradition.

To work toward achieving that quality of life the Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA) was formed to build trails, campsites, establish trout fishing on the Elkin Creek, develop a mountain bike course near the city reservoir and to uncover more about he history of the region to connect citizens with their roots.

Our area has deep historical roots.  It has a unique Indian history going back thousands of years.  It has a legacy of strong leadership, education, and persistence in the face of devastating.  It has a unique train history.

Elkin Valley was an economic engine in northwest North Carolina for a hundred and fifty years and dams on the Elkin Creek powered the industry. Incidentally, the Elkin Creek was known as the Elkin River for the first two centuries of the United States. The Elkin River can be found on an original map that has hung in Independence Hall in Philadelphia since 1774. The Elkin River was mistakenly renamed the Elkin Creek by a mapping party in 1973 and it now is called the Elkin Creek with official secondary names of the Big Elkin Creek and the Elkin River.   Restoring the designation of ‘river’ to a ‘creek’ is a story for another time.

The ‘then’ Elkin River figured significantly in the course of American history.  Major Joseph Winston, from Surry County, met up with 600 horse-mounted soldiers on the banks of the Elkin ‘River’ in 1780 to ride to Kings Mountain on the Overmountain Victory Trail where they participated in the defeat of British Colonel Patrick Ferguson. This battle is credited as being the turning point of the Revolutionary War.

Well, I’ll get back to the story of the trail from Elkin to Stone Mountain.   As one of its first projects the EVTA is building a trail on the decommissioned Elkin & Alleghany rail bed that started in Elkin and ended near the base of Stone Mountain. The first section is about 2.5 miles long from downtown Elkin to the Elkin City Reservoir.

Only one easement on one section of the trail right by the 268 Hwy Bridge is holding up progress toward the city reservoir.

Our plan is to build two suspension bridges over the Elkin Creek to get to the city reservoir.  At the city reservoir the EVTA is planning a single-track mountain bike trail.

The EVTA is an affiliate of the North Carolina Rail Trail Inc., a 501 c 3 organization, and can solicit donations, hold property and provide an employee identification number for tax deductions should anyone wish to help our cause.  In the coming weeks I’ll write articles about what the EVTA is working on and how other citizens can help with almost any kind of support . . . financial or physical.

The EVTA is holding a workday in February to build a campsite and a river walk along the Yadkin on the lower portion of the Crater Park. If you would like to help with that trail work in February, contact the EVTA and we’ll notify you of the work date and time.

The EVTA is engaged in a range of other activities including researching our Daniel Boone Trail roots, the E & A train history, factories that once existed on the Elkin Creek, working on trails toward Wilkesboro and Pilot Mountain as well Stone Mountain, considering a permanent site for historical items and photographs, republishing (with additional materials) Dan Bray’s Elkin & Alleghany Railroad Book, planning a model train lay out duplicating the old E & A Railroad and more.

We are still looking for more old photographs to digitalize for our files.

The EVTA has a list of individuals, officials and companies to thank for support.   We plan to write a weekly column in The Tribune and on our website (elkinvalleytrails.org) about trail activities to keep citizens up to date, to solicit information and help and to recognize those who help build the trails.

We would love to have your help in this adventure.  You can join our Constant Contact information list by emailing Denise Lyon at myfrienddenise@gmail.com

You can contact me at wjblackley@gmail.com or 336-835-4630 if you have questions.

We would like to give a huge ‘first thank you’ to the hardworking individual members of the EVTA Steering Committee, to the Town of Elkin Commissioners and staff for encouragement, support and for a matching grant, to the Surry County Commissioners for a resolution supporting easements on property and financial support through the Chatham Foundation.

If you want to learn more in person, please join us on January 31, at 7 PM, at the Elkin Center, Campus of SCC, off North Bridge Street for a working/planning meeting where we will be setting up 2012 activities.  We can use your help, so come on out if you are favorably inclined to pitch in.

Bill Blackley, Coordinator

It’s a Community Effort

Thanks to the Town of Elkin for their support and encouragement and for their trail planning and development!

Please join our efforts – it’s all about community!
Please contact us to donate your time, money and energy to make our historic trails and greenways a reality in the Elkin Valley region.

Bill Blackley, Coordinator
Elkin Valley Trails Association
Mailing Address: 105 Knollwood Drive Elkin, NC 28621
Phone: 336.835.4630
Email: wjblackley@gmail.com

Hello trail enthusiasts!

The goal of the Elkin Valley Trails Association is to increase our local quality of life by building a wonderful trail system for our community.   We are working with the Town of Elkin, engaged citizens, community volunteers, corporate supporters and others to make this happen.  Many studies demonstrate that an excellent trail system stimulates the economy, promotes fitness and attracts locals and visitors to our area to hike, bike, fish, camp, and to appreciate nature and history.  Please explore and support our local trails.

Elkin & Alleghany Train run along the Big Elk Creek by the Library Dam