During this prom season the state Transportation Department put out a press statement begging people to not take their glamour photos on railroad tracks.
Then they’d better bring armed guards to Elkin. That’s because our Front Street railroad trestle is the king of the railroad glamour shot.
It’s always looked kind of old and rusty to me. But folks with cameras are drawn to the visual lines and tunnel effect offered by the trestle and the photogenic depth of the train track with green vines sometimes visible.
ShotHotspot.com, an internet website, gives our trestle a two-star rating, the same as that given Elkin Creek Vineyard. I think that’s low for our trestle. It’s recommended as a good photographic subject for architecture and transportation shots.
And you don’t even have to trespass to get that perfect railroad shot in Elkin. Front Street is a public right of way right next to the trestle and provides an excellent, straight-on and close-up view. You don’t even need a zoom lens. That makes our trestle special.
“It is one of the most photographed places in Elkin for wedding, engagement and senior portraits,” said Elkin area photographer Keith Hall, whose homespun videos and fine still photos of the hometown area are popular on the internet and on television. “I started photographing it several years ago before it became popular.
“I like old railroads and trains because the old secondary railroads one day will be a thing of the past,” Hall explained.
You can see your share of picturesque photos of the Elkin trestle around, but I’ve never seen anybody have their own picture taken with it, even in this age of the selfie. We must have already gotten DOT’s message.
The state’s BeRailSafe program asked the state Department of Public Instruction to get the word out to schools to have their yearbook advisers reject any photos taken on railroad tracks, and to urge young people to not even think of going there.
“You wouldn’t take photos in the middle of an interstate or on an airport runway,” the DOT announcement reasoned.
They cited the 21 people killed in North Carolina last year on railroad tracks, though none were taking photos.
Come to think of it, you never hear of any train problems in Elkin. The Yadkin Valley Railroad is given a wide and peaceful berth as it passes slowly through the heart of town, and folks seem to know to stay respectfully out of its way.
I’ve never once seen the impatient try to drive around railroad gates and not wait for the train to pass. And now don’t any of you start just because I’m bringing it up.
The train, which has been riding the rails since 1890, these days runs out of Rural Hall on weekdays shipping goods for companies like Weyerhaeuser east of Elkin and Tyson and ABTCO fiberboard in Roaring River.
When I was in school we went to the rapids along Cotton Mill Road in Roaring River for our senior photos. When the trail-building folks open up a path to Carter Falls on Big Elkin Creek north of town sometime in the future, I expect that to become a popular place for photography.
In the meantime, the state may not like it, but the Elkin trestle is just too big and just too impressive and just too good a shot to ignore. Sorry, DOT.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.