Pam Richter – Class of 2011
September 6, 2010
The sound of trains’ rumbles and whistles echoing through Elon University’s campus and the town is a familiar sound to generations of students and town’s people. Today, the Town of Elon does not have its own train depot, but for a long time there was on that was an important part of the community and school.
The original train depot in the Town of Elon was built for handling freight on railroad locomotives at Mill Point. The train stop became an important way Elon College students arrived and departed from campus. According to a September 9, 1927 article from Maroon and Gold titled, “Trains and Busses Bringing in Students from All Sections,” in the opening week of school, students came from 16 states and two foreign countries during that year.
Around 1961, the Southern Railway gained permission from the State Utilities Commission to remove the depot that stood between the railroad tracks and Lebanon Avenue. This decision came after the passenger and freight traffic became unprofitable. After this depot was removed, the town of Elon remained a stop for passenger trains only.
In the Alumni News from March 1963 an excerpt about the train stated: “The joy of going ‘down to the station’ to meet the trains (girls chaperoned of course); the anticipation of meeting the trains in September to see who was coming back, since nearly everyone traveled by train; the farewells in May as students departed for the summer vacation months. But these days are gone forever for the old station is gone and only two trains daily-one east, one west-and if you want to ride, you flag!”
Most recently, Elon University opened up a pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks as a safe way for pedestrians to walk from one side of campus to another. The tunnel links Lebanon Avenue with Trollinger Avenue. According to E-Net “it is the result of a five-year joint project between the North Carolina Railroad Company and Elon University at a cost of $2.5 million. HNTB Engineering and Crowder Construction Company designed and built the tunnel, respectively.”