Monday 22 May 2017

Otago Central Railway [20]: Rail Trail on Streetview

Today, Keith Clare (a former surfaceman who used to live in Galloway) tells me that the whole Rail Trail is now on Google Streetview. Well that is really true. Every location I tried comes up.

Considering I haven't been able to get up there since the photographers special in 1989 (I do hope to get out to the rail trail in the next couple of years) being able to look at all these locations the way a train driver would have seen them on the front of a train is pretty special because there is all this detail you would never have seen riding in a passenger car. And even if you went on the rail trail then you still wouldn't have time to stop and look at every little thing.

So I expect to use that a bit over the coming months just to take a look at different bits of the trail but it isn't information that can be put into the maps due to Google copyrights. So I definitely won't be marking on the kilometre peg locations. There are hundreds of them and they will take way too long to complete. I still have a few milepegs to put in and they will take long enough.

Sunday 21 May 2017

Publications: Getting the project published and winding it up

As some of my friends know I have of late been looking at bringing this project to a conclusion because I hardly ever get things finished in my life and I really do want to finish this one and put all of it out there for the community as so many of you in this community have assisted me and given a lot of information that will come together and flow back for the benefit of the greater community.

The plan I came up with in March this year was to wind things up by the end of 2019, which is 2 1/2 years from now. However after further reflection I have decided to bring that forward and finish this off by the end of this year, 2017. This will conclude 10 years of work on this mapping project which I feel is sufficient. I've been very blessed to have a lot more free time this year to push things along a lot but I can't expect that next year or any other year will be as good.

Because of that the intended structure of the maps will change. There were going to be over 20 volumes covering the whole of New Zealand with about 100-150 pages in each volume. Because I recently came up with a way to use space on a print page more efficiently I looked at shrinking each volume to a maximum of 50 pages. However I am now intending to combine the volumes together so there are fewer, larger volumes of maps because it will be more efficient with my time to work on a smaller number of larger volumes than a larger number of smaller volumes. The structure of the volumes will therefore be changed and improved.

There is also going to be an impact on a series of articles I am currently working with NZRO on. These articles cover the Otago Central Railway and are part of a particular focus on that line. The reason I have focused so much on the OCR is that it is living history having been reborn as the rail trail, combining this with the Cromwell Gorge unique status from the hydro development. I am not quite sure how many parts there will be except that all of these parts will be essentially finalised by the end of this year in accordance with my timeline mentioned above. This suggests to me three parts maximum. This has still to be confirmed but I can't see more than three parts coming.

So expect to see a frenzy of a lot more work coming out pretty quickly over the next seven months of completeness. At the same time I expect to see seven months of fulness and new things opening up in my life. Praise God!

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Otago Central Railway [19]: Clyde completed

Well since my last post I have been putting in extra details in the Clyde yard and checking them against the current Linz aerial footage that I have used. This work is now complete. There is just some checking to be done against the 1992 aerial footage and also one change to be done to Cromwell yard with the pre-1961 goods shed location before I start writing.

The east end of Clyde yard. Starting from the right we have the site of the engine depot (E), former cattleyards (Y), coal depot (F) and water tanks (W). In the middle we have the site of the turntable and to the left can be seen a row of houses of which three still remain today. Whitby Street did not cross the railway here as it was built across after the line closed, so there was not a street going between two of the houses as is the case today.

The middle of Clyde yard. As can be seen the three houses remaining on the north side of the line were part of a row of six or more originally. A water vat and some more houses were on the south side opposite. House 212 was at one time the stationmaster's house. Station facilities included a goods shed and loading bank; the shed was relocated nearby after the station closed, as seen in the next map. The Clyde station building was for many years occupied by a vintage farm machinery museum that was evicted for lease arrears; it was believed the group was using the site for storage and had no intention of opening to the public. The building for the last two years is now occupied by a rail trail related business.

West end of Clyde yard. The stockyards were in this position when aerial photos were taken in the 1960s. We can also see the sites of three more houses (one still exists today), a water vat and the current location of the goods shed, which was moved to become part of the Clyde Briar Herb Museum complex. At the time of writing the museum is closed due to some of the buildings being earthquake prone and in poor condition.

The Clyde railyard as seen in February 1979. The operating facilities were limited to the immediate vicinity of the station just 14 months prior to closure.

Entrance to the Cromwell Gorge just above the Clyde Dam as seen in February 1979. The new highway can be seen joining to the old route at Dairy Creek with the extension above it being started. New oxidation ponds are being built and a gully filled just below them, some of the extensive earthworks that changed the shape of the gorge to reduce instability. 

Clyde dam site February 1979. The green rectangle shows where the river diversion channel was already being cut out of the river bank. Foundations and sluices were built in this channel and then the river was diverted through them to give a dry foundation under the rest of the dam. This is where the administration offices and staff parking are located today, just below the powerhouse.

Google Earth view of the dam today with water spilling on the spillway to the right. To the left can be seen the diversion channel with four low level sluice channels in the water at the bottom of it it. Three of these sluices were permanently closed when the dam began filling; the remaining channel is closed by a gate which can be opened if needed to draw down the reservoir and which is regularly tested for correct operation. Directly above the channel are two high level sluices or penstocks that have never been completed. There may have been an intention to extend the powerhouse and add two more turbines and generators at this location when the dam was first designed. However the design was changed midway through construction to add the earthquake slip joint and the associated changes apparently included deleting the last two penstocks and associated generation machinery. 

Early stage of dam construction with the diversion sluices in place above the channel.

Another view of the diversion from the upstream side of the dam. The high level sluices to the "spare penstocks" are visible as well as the four vertical gates in place to close off the sluices when the lake is ready to be filled. One of the sluices is now fitted with a radial gate to allow it to be reopened if necessary.

In 1992 a group of environmentalists took the opportunity to raft the river before the dam was completely closed up. This upstream view of the dam shows the river at its pre-hydro level. The entrances to the four operational penstocks and two "spare penstocks" can be seen with the sluice gates below the latter. The rafters passed through one of the diversion channels before they were permanently closed to fill the lake.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Otago Central Railway [18D]: Cromwell Gorge Map almost completed

Just a really quick note to say the Cromwell Gorge map has been completed (for the gorge). In order to finish the map from Clyde to Cromwell, all I have to do is finish the layout for Clyde station.

The amount of detail needed from the chainage charts west of Clyde was not huge and I have finished marking in the milepegs etc and just one house at Halfway House (which was not there by the time the aerial photos were taken in the 1960s).

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Otago Central Railway [18C]: Clyde NZED Siding

Well I have been pushing ahead to put in the milepegs but I have not started adding stuff in the Old Clyde yard yet. But I will probably do a bit of that today.

Today's puzzle is the NZED Siding mentioned in Dangerfield & Emerson 3rd edition page 109 listed at 214.69 km and active from 1968 to 1978. I have depicted that location on the map as below.

However I have been unable to find out any more about the siding and having to travel to Dunedin to research it further is not feasible for me to carry out. 

Since all aerial photography I can access at present fails to show any sign of the siding at this location then essentially I have reached the limit of my knowledge on this topic.

The 1979 aerial photo showing the new Clyde yard and highway under construction does show this area but no obvious detail. The siding closed the previous year so may well have been removed by this time. 

Continuing my comments from yesterday about the new highway taking the rail corridor between Youngs Lane and the extension of Sunderland Street between the old and new highways, the visible rail corridor at the NZED Siding location does seem to have been very wide for whatever reason and it would seem likely the highway just took the existing corridor. The 1979 photo when the highway was under construction shows intact shelter belts along the southern edge so it's possible no extra land was needed. 

In the above photo we can see the boundary of houses parallel to the track on the south side, this boundary is probably the actual edge of the rail corridor at that time and it lines up with the edge of the highway corridor. However, the rail corridor has all been built in from Sunderland St Extension until the location of the turntable is reached, in a public reserve. Between there and the main station site, and west of the main station site, the corridor has been partly built on. Part of the short stretch of corridor from the old station to the dam is however still accessible in public or road reserve. However changes in roading and the earthworks around the dam site have destroyed any traces of the short stretch below the dam at the start of the gorge.

Tuesday 9 May 2017

Otago Central Railway [18B]: Clyde aerial photos from the Whites Aviation Collection, National Library NZ

Clyde 1951. Very different today. Turntable still in place.

Clyde 1957, turntable was still in place then.

Clyde 1959. Showing where the engine shed was. Clyde was the railhead until the extension to Cromwell opened in 1921 and the shed was probably removed after then but the turntable survived until sometime between the previous 1957 photo and this one.

Clyde 1959 showing the main part of the yard.

Clyde 1968.

Clyde in 1968 showing the line entering the Cromwell Gorge and making the first crossing of the highway. These days the view is dominated by the Clyde Dam just upstream from that level crossing.

Otago Central Railway [18A]: The Clyde rail corridor and the 133 mile peg

Yesterday I published a map purporting to show the 133 mile peg. Today I discovered I was mistaken about the location of where that peg is. It looks rather like I placed it about a mile from its actual location. However, I can't be sure exactly because I haven't yet tried to locate 134 miles.

What I do know is that the location of 133 miles is where the new SH8 motorway took over the original 1907 railway formation just east of Clyde. Perhaps it is little known that a small kink was put into the route to the new Clyde station at Youngs Lane crossing when it was constructed in the late 1970s. Even though the route looks like the original as far as the point where it curves around to enter the 1980 railway yard, it is in fact parallel to the original rail corridor that was taken over to become part of the new highway. 

As you can see on the map, the centreline of the highway appears to be a little south of the centreline of the actual railway. I don't have enough aerial photography to be sure if actual land was taken off properties immediately south of the rail corridor to make the highway corridor. The rail corridor to the east of the Muttontown Gully bridge is actually on more or less the same alignment as the corridor that the highway sits in. That corridor that goes as far as roughly where Airport Road crosses over the rail trail, is about 44 yards wide and for some reason it's especially wide there compared to some other parts of the corridor. Essentially I would need to find aerials of the mid 1970s or cadastrals to see if the corridor was that wide and I don't have any.

Basically the rail alignment was arrived at by knowing the line was dead straight from the Muttontown Gully bridge through nearly all the way to Clyde station. Put that in and you are left with the conclusion about where the highway sits in relation to the railway line and why the rail line was taken off its existing centreline and pushed over slightly. That conclusion is simply that it is possible that the highway occupies the entire rail corridor. When I travelled to Clyde by train (in fact so far the only times I have been to Clyde at all) on two occasions, October 1987 and September 1989, the one thing I do remember is where the highway curved off the corridor, looking across to some trees where the old line clearly used to run and assuming the line must have carried on from the route we were on into the old station in the middle of town. However as far as I know there was never a level crossing of the highway. The aerial photo of Clyde at the time the new railway yard was under construction in 1979 shows the highway was built as far as a temporary link across to the old line, so probably no level crossing there. Rip up the tracks and finish the highway is my guess.

It's not conclusive that the highway corridor is entirely on the rail corridor without widening on the south side, and land had to be taken on the north side for the extra railway tracks because there was effectively a second Clyde yard with the tracks needed to serve the MOW sidings for the dam construction. It's sort of interesting that the original line went right up to the dam site and could have railed concrete directly there, but I guess the powers that be didn't want a level crossing of the new highway, so they just got on with putting in the new yard and terminating the line there. Anyway I will shortly put in the 134 mile peg because I need that to measure some other stuff off in order to fully draw in the old Clyde yard.

Otago Central Railway [18]: Clyde

Well the mapping of the Cromwell Gorge for the route of the railway and highway has been completed.
The next step is to put in the milepegs and any other relevant data, starting from the 133 MP shown to the right, this will include any additional features of the Clyde yard that weren't present in the 1960s aerial photography (for example, the engine shed that used to be located east of the turntable).

As I work up the line back to Cromwell I can also check some of the other stuff in the aerial photography (other than the rail/SH8 routes) to ensure it is correct on the map, such as the locations of farm properties, other roads and the old riverbed.

Once that part is fully complete it will be time to start writing the first article which just covers the gorge section i.e. the original Clyde station up to Cromwell. We will see how many words that is likely to need, and whether to extend it to cover the new Clyde station as well.

Sunday 7 May 2017

Otago Central Railway [17]: Doigs

As I mentioned last time, Doigs is the first station up the Gorge after Clyde. It was a small station with just a shelter shed and a very short siding. Nearby was the ballast pit.

Drawing the maps up to this point has been quite time consuming. It actually took four attempts to get the aerial photo of the area properly lined up with the existing scenery so that the maps could be accurately drawn.  Still, it's good to get to this point.

The work order has been to get the highway and railway and other bits such as farm boundaries into the correct place, and this will continue all the way down to Clyde. From there I will work back up to Cromwell to do the chainages and also reposition other elements such as the old riverbed, which is probably in the wrong place in at least part of this pictgure.

MNL repairs 28/4/17

NZTA earthquake repair newsletter


Ground damage between bridges 135 and 136 near Mirza. Currently KRL is undertaking formation repairs in the vicinity of "Tar Barrel" nearby.

MNL Bridge 95

MNL Bridge 95 (Claverley Creek) showing severe subsidence particularly at the north end. The bridge built in 1938 is being strengthened and its abutments rebuilt. (Aerial photography courtesy LINZ)

Kaikoura Earthquake Updates

- From NZTA newsletter

Monday 1 May 2017

Otago Central Railway [16]: Cromwell Gorge

Well the notion that the holidays was going to offer ample time to get this project pushed along turned out to be a bit of a flop because the holidays were busier than term time. So my expectations for getting a lot of progress done haven't materialised. 

However things have slowed down again back in term time so progress will be made this week.

The railway as it goes around Brewery Creek and down past Gibraltar Rock towards Waenga. Apart from the two prominent headlands rounded by the rail and road routes the fact the route appears to be above the waterline for much of the distance in between is moot as the shoreline may have been built up above its original level.

UPDATE 2/5/17: Progress today has been good and has just reached down to Bridge 92, more than halfway through the Gorge. A little more work would bring the completed map down to Doigs ballast pit and station. Doigs was the first station in the Cromwell Gorge after Clyde, being halfway from Clyde to Waenga.