A new photo from the Powerhouse Museum every day
Continuing on the theme of trains – the above photo from the Tyrrell collection depicts a section of the Wolgan Valley railway, a private line built to transport shale oil and other products from the mines and refinery in the Wolgan Valley at Newnes up to the Main Western Railway line on the ridge top at Newnes Junction, 8 km east of Lithgow, NSW. The line was built in 1907 by J.D. Simpson to the design of Henry Deane (1847-1924) and operated by the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. The line featured tunnels, sharp bends and steep cliffs and special Shay steam locomotives were required to operate on it. Passengers as well as freight made the hair-raising journey. The line closed in 1932 and the track was removed in 1943. The route of the old railway can still be seen, both by car up to one of the tunnels and then on foot.
Detailed history of the construction of the line can be found in Deane’s paper “The Wolgan Valley Railway – its construction”, originaly presented to the Sydney University Engineering Society in 1910 and later reproduced in a book published by the Australian Railway Historical Society in 1979 and subsequently reprinted in 2004. Kerry’s postcard depicting the same location is on the cover of the book and bears the following caption:
Some of the problems in constructing the Wolgan Valley Railway are evident in this early photo. Here, a Newnes-bound train passes under the cliffs as the line enters the Wolgan Valley. The cliffs have been undercut and the rubble added to the already existing steep talus slope, making just enough room for the railway.
Photography by Kerry & Co, Tyrrell collection
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Post by Iwona Hetherington and Margaret Simpson, Curator