Stumbling on N.E.Georgia’s Hidden History – written by Kitty Stratton

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Stumbling on N.E.Georgia’s Hidden History

When I first moved to Toccoa I had no idea of the rich history of the area.  I loved the sound of the lonesome train whistle in the night as it made it’s nightly passage from Atlanta northwards.  I already knew from reading local history that Toccoa had been the site of a coaling station for the Georgia Airline Railroad in it’s early history after the civil war.

During one of many hikes in the area I stumbled on historic puzzle pieces of  a time long gone.  Close to my home where the modern Amtrak & freight trains rush by on modern and efficient rails, there is evidence of an old railway cutting  The cutting runs in to a paved road,  that curves sharply, with steep drops on either side.  After talking with neighbors, I came to find out that this was not originally a road but in fact the remains of an old earthen train trestle.  It’s construction leaves you wondering  how much dirt must have been hauled to create this earthen trestle  over the North Broad River.   The earthen Trestle was built to  carry a train on  a single track of the old Airline-Railway, between 1871 and 1873.

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 “North Broad Curve” was located at a point where the single track crossed North Broad river as it turned south, on what is now known as Rock Quarry Circle, towards Currahee Mountain.

The sharp North Broad Curve came to be replaced by the “Wells Viaduct” and was constructed between the years 1915 to 1919.   The Chief Engineer of the project was W.H.Wells.  The trestle is the highest trestle on the line between Washington D.C. and New Orleans, Louisiana.

The trestle is approximately  1,400 feet long and is supported by ten reinforced concrete piers with heights of up to 200 feet above the valley of the North Fork of the Broad River.

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North Broad Trestle

Today the trestle can now be viewed from a public viewing area located off the Hwy 17 bypass that circles around Toccoa.  The public viewing point is in the Trestle Falls subdivision.  If you are lucky you might catch a photo of a train as it speeds over the trestle and across the North Broad River.

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View from Underneath the North Broad Trestle

For more adventurous hikers, the viewing area under the trestle can be reached from the Chattahoochee National Forest, Locust Stake ATV Trail System on the Trestle Loop.    Locust Stake Road can be reached from Rock Road off of the Hwy 17 bypass near  the county boundary between Habersham and Stephens County .  The ATV  Trail System is currently closed for maintenance and repair due to heavy rainfall.  Hikers can still access the trail system but must make sure when they park that they do not block any forest service gates.  Blocking a forest service gate can result in getting a ticket, so be warned!  For more information about the Trestle Loop trail visit the following website  http://www.fs.usda.gov

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