The most iconic image of the 80’s Athens music scene is the Georgia Railroad Trestle that graced the back cover of R.E.M.’s first LP “Murmur,” released in 1983.
But, the trestle itself dates back 100 years prior, to 1883 when it was built to get trains across Trail Creek and the Oconee River to downtown Athens.
One year after the release of “Murmur,” the railway was abandoned and the trestle left to rot.
In 2000, demolition on the trestle began but public outcry halted its destruction and the trestle was purchased by the county in 2001. Since then, various plans have been floated to preserve or demolish the structure, but none were approved.
Then, in 2019, the Athens-Clarke Commission approved the Firefly Trail project. Under the plan, the middle part of the trestle would be kept intact. The ends would be replaced with a steel arch support system. This would allow the bridge to connect to a proposed pedestrian-cycling trail that would connect to downtown Athens and run along the abandoned rail line.
While it is sad to see that part of the trestle will be removed as part of this project, I think that making the trestle part of a walking/bike trail is a great idea. I’d love to stroll on top of the trestle whose image was on an LP I spent so much time listening to in college.