Things didn't look good when Phil Coulston and co. first set about restoring the 103-year-old Dry Forest Creek trestle bridge.
White ants had done damage and steel girders, made by the same company who worked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, were threatening to fall into the water below.
The bridge had greatly deteriorated since the last goods train ran through on the Wodonga to Cudgewa rail line in 1978.
But the 23 Tallangatta Rail Trail Advisory Group members persevered.
"A couple of piers were completely missing and we built them from scratch," Mr Coulston said.
"We had to replace 40-odd piles and put in some new cross-heads.
"We had to get bigger machinery like excavators and a crane to get the beams off the higher parts, and that cost a lot of money.
"One year we didn't do much at all, because we didn't have the finance to go on with it."
A major turning point came in October, 2018 when the group won $91,300 through the Victorian government's Pick My Project.
Parklands Albury-Wodonga ranger Anthea Packer wrote in the grant application that $397,776 worth of time had been put in by the community so far.
"It was picked by popular vote, and then the local member suggested we leverage some money from the Australian government as well, which we got," she said.
"There's no bucket of gold; what the community groups do is just get started and try for grants along the way."
With nearly $200,000 of government money to work with, the group got stuck in.
The Puffing Billy Preservation Society supported a week-long working bee in May, and by June, 30-odd tonne of concrete stabilising piers was in place.
Louise Coulston said it was all-systems go during the first half of 2019.
"We had the use of a Lucas Mill to help with timber and if we hadn't had this, it would not have been possible," she said.
"The boys decided to just get going and used fundraising money - it would have taken years if we hadn't had that funding.
"The fact they have kept it as it was is all part of the history of the line."
The Dry Forest Creek bridge is just one part of the transport history still evident along the route of the old rail line.
Four bridges are heritage-listed including two at Darbyshire Hill (which would be restored in an ideal world).
The number two Darbyshire bridge, which is 21.3 metres high and one of 19 originals, is the tallest railway bridge of timber and steel joist construction to survive in Victoria, according to the National Trust.
The Wodonga to Cudgewa line was known for these curving wooden bridges and steep grades.
The first section from Wodonga to Huon opened in 1889 and extended into the hills over stages - its exact route was debated and it wasn't until 1911 it was decided the track would run through Koetong instead of Tallangatta Valley, costing 282,230 pounds.
Work started in 1914 and by 1916 the track reached Shelley, the most elevated railway station in Victoria.
During the 1960s, the line was crucial to supplying goods for the Snowy Mountain Scheme.
Tallangatta's Beth Webb came to town from Melbourne during the final years of passenger rail.
"I came to Tallangatta in 1958 and I arrived on the beetle, as they called it," she said.
"Before the town actually moved, the beetle used to run a lot between the old town and the new town.
"I'd been working in the Bank of NSW, and didn't like the city so I looked to come back to the country."
Mrs Webb loved living in Tallangatta - only spending 10 years away, in Albury - and when she returned for the last time, attended a public meeting.
"There were a few things they were discussing - one of them was to do something about a rail trail," she said.
Fellow local Rob Caddell was also there.
"It was 2002, probably about the middle of the year," he said.
"The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail was on the go around Wangaratta and Myrtleford, and then we had the [Jeff] Kennett years where we had the commissioners in place. Those commissioners for Towong Shire were keen to develop the rail trail.
"Parklands Albury-Wodonga had set up an advisory group at Bonegilla and were looking for people in Tallangatta.
"There was good attendance and we've been working on it ever since, really."
Funding in 2003 got things going for the Tallangatta Rail Trail Advisory Group.
"That enabled us to open the rail trail out to Old Tallangatta - that was the first section done - and then the Sandy Creek bridge was the most important link," Mr Caddell said.
"We had a small grant to restore up to three bridges, and got some assistance from the Army Reserves and DELWP, or DEC as it was at that time."
As the $1.35 million Sandy Creek Inlet Bridge was being built in 2012, the volunteers worked on repairing smaller structures.
Their first was the Koetong trestle bridge over Darbyshire Creek, and the further restoration of Darbyshire and Peterkins bridges opened up another 20 kilometres of the High Country Rail Trail.
Ms Packer said a number of other bridges had been repaired or built over time.
"There's 31 bridges in total on the trail, and we've gone around some trestle bridges," she said.
"We've been making the impossible, possible, and we need to say thanks to a lot of farmers who have given access to their properties and donated materials.
"There's 90 kilometres all the way to Shelley - and this bridge has been the last one to enable it all to happen."
The Dry Forest Creek project has been the largest restoration yet and represents a final piece to the puzzle, with only Tallangatta Creek yet to be crossed with the upcoming construction of a new bridge.
Work was finished in June but the bridge will be officially opened tomorrow as part of the Tallangatta Rail Trail Advisory Group's fundraiser, the Tall Trestle Treadle.
It will be a proud moment for the group when 110 riders cross the bridge on their way into town.
But the success of the rail trail overall is clear through counters that have been installed in three sections.
Jim Scott said it was surprising how many people used the more remote section of the track.
"We check them monthly and originally when we first put in Shelley, there were maybe 50 a month, but that's gone up to 100," he said.
"The old town counter is doing over 100 now, and the one in Tallangatta is counting up to 800.
"That's people coming to Tallangatta and going back to Wodonga, and a lot of locals."
Mrs Webb knew of people coming from all over Australia and beyond to ride the North East's rail trails.
"And it's only going to grow, now that we've gone through to Shelley," she said.
"We're looking for a group to be formed around Shelley to complete it to Cudgewa, and that will take the trail along the whole way of the rail line.
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"Our work has been mainly volunteers and they've done an amazing job - they've worked so hard together."
Mr Caddell said completing the trail would only add to its array of unique scenery and historic infrastructure.
"Our ambition has been to open it all the way up towards Corryong, but that's still in the future," he said.
"It's been very rewarding for the group to see it all come together.
"When it's finished, it will be one of the best rail trails in Australia - that's for sure."