The year was 1915.
That marked the first hydro-electric power plant at Carter Falls which brought electricity to the town of Elkin.
Over the weekend during N.C. Trail Days, Stephen Harris gave guided tours to Carter Falls, sharing stories along the way about the history of the old powerhouse and his personal connections to site.
“When they first turned on the electric lights in Elkin, the newspaper said that folks in the next town over, Ronda, thought Elkin was on fire,” Harris told hikers on Friday morning.
“Imagine seeing that for the first time,” he said. “It must have seemed like a miracle.”
Harris also noted that the grave of his fourth Great Grandfather, William Harris, a guard to General Washington during the Revolutionary War, could be glimpsed from across the falls.
The Carter Falls hike was just one of many guided hike options last weekend during the second annual N.C. Trail Days festival. The weekend-long festival was a celebration of the great outdoors and the growing trail system in and around Elkin. The remains of moonshine stills at Stone Mountain State Park, a section of the Mountains-to-Sea trail at Carolina Heritage Vineyards and a walk through Historic Downtown Elkin were among the options hikers could enjoy.
“Even though the Carter Falls park was bought by State bond money everything that you see done in the park has been done by volunteers of the Elkin Valley Trails Association. They’ve done just an outstanding job and they’re not done yet,” Harris told the group.
Harris showed hikers where the former Carter Falls dam would have stood as well as pointing out where the wooden and metal flume that brought water to the power plant would have been. Some of the metal bands from around the flume can still be seen along the trail. Hikers also had the chance to stand atop the old foundation of the powerhouse.
The spot where the flume exploded in 1963 that ended the use of the power plant was also noted by Harris during the tour.
Locals and visitors made friends with one another as they chatted along the trail during the hike.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @news_shewrote.