The funny thing about it is that I don’t really have a connection to the dang thing.
About 15 or so years ago, I started a blog called Beyond The Trestle. I’d like to tell you there was some great, profound rationale behind why I named it that. In actuality, I just thought it sounded cool. The famous “Murmur Trestle” was in the news, as it has been for the past 30 years or so, and I wanted something that felt distinctly Athens to name my site.
Well, that site fell by the wayside with, you know, work and all. Then last year, after the beginning of a new professional chapter for me, Joe and I decided to bring it back to life with a new premise. Beyond The Trestle lived again, and then Joe and I decided to not just do that, but also do … this.
It needed a name, and here we are.
Back to the trestle, though.
It’s famous because of R.E.M., but, honestly, I’m not even that big of a fan. Before you shower me with your hate mail, please don’t mistake me. I really, really like R.E.M., and I fully appreciate their remarkable talent and countless contributions to the Athens community.
But outside of a weird drive back from the 1995 state high school basketball tournament where I listened to “Monty Got A Raw Deal” while dozing off — leading to a string of super weird dreams — I just don’t have the same connection with the band as so many other Athenians.
Consider my friend Tim.
He’s from Maryland. I don’t know if he had ever set foot in Georgia before 1996. Yet, his love for the band led him and his dad to spend a few nights at the illustrious Bulldog Inn off Highway 441 and pretty much “commit to the G” sight unseen. That’s a level of passion and trust that, quite frankly, I just don’t have in many things outside of the Good Lord and people who share my last name.
R.E.M. and everything caught up in its ecosystem are so intertwined in this town that it can command that type of allegiance and respect. It’s a big reason why, for so many years, lots of folks have pushed, pleaded and pressured to keep that hulking trestle in place.
They’ve lined up at local commission meetings. They’ve written letters to the editor. They’ve raised money. They’ve petitioned historic preservation groups. They’ve done a little bit of everything just to keep this piece of history alive.
But, in the end, time won.
The trestle is simply too unsteady, too unsafe to stay up, particularly given the installation of walking trails around it. It has to come down, lest anyone get hurt. But it’s removal won’t leave a void, either literal or metaphorical.
In its place, an exact reproduction of the original trestle will be built, reinforced by a pair of steel arches and integrated into the Firefly Trail. It will feature repurposed, salvaged wood from what stands now, ensuring the physical history of the structure will be preserved in the newest iteration.
One chapter ending. A new one beginning.
It’s a familiar feeling for Joe and I, as we’re only six months into this new venture. Our journeys to this spot are a bit different, but we’ve learned and grown along the way. Now we can take those experiences and histories and set out to do good work with good folks.
Maybe my connection to the trestle is stronger than I realize.