So here we are at Arthurs Pass with a selection of historic aerial photos dating from 1943, 1966 and 1971, the last of which being the NZR station surveys. We could also have made use of the NZR corridor survey of the early 1980s that we used for Otira. However, there would have been very little change between 1971 and the early 1980s so that option has not been utilised in this case. The 0.3 metre base tiles were each scaled to 0.1 metres for this mosaic and there were two map tiles in total for each generation. We also took the opportunity to combine the tiles at the south end of the station yard where two different Linz layers overlap with the annoying black fringing so that we have continuous terrain on the tiles instead of these ugly black borders that in this case take up nearly half of the tile area.
Arthurs Pass did not show a lot of change over the generations and for this reason the maps themselves are simply a combination of these three generations rather than being three separate generations. The main changes seen are:
In 1943 there was a turntable pit visible at the due west end of the engine shed. This must have been the original location of the turntable at Arthurs Pass. One possible reason for removing it is to enable the main highway to be straightened up. We don't know yet when the turntable was relocated but it has been at the due north end of the yard next to the Bealey River bridge for the best part of 80 years, probably longer. The other difference with later maps is the original station building.
In 1966 there were sidings around the engine shed that were in use and the engine shed had been used in earlier times to store mothballed steam locomotives, most notably F 13 of 1872 which is now at Ferrymead. It had been placed in storage after the NZR Centennial exhibition at Christchurch in 1963 but due to the wish for it to be moved to Ferrymead for eventual restoration, it hauled an excursion train from Arthurs Pass to Ferrymead in 1964. It was eventually restored to service 20 years later. After falling due for its ten year boiler inspection it sat out of service for approximately fifteen years before being restored for the second time several years ago. The other difference seen on the 1966 aerial photo is the new station building which replaced the old one that burnt down in the mid 1960s.
In 1971 the sidings around the engine shed had been removed. The engine shed has since been sold or leased and is no longer used for any railway purpose.
The major changes more recently are the de-electrification of the Arthurs Pass-Otira section through the Otira Tunnel and within the last five years, the major highway alignment between Bealey Bridge and Arthurs Pass. (N.B. Bealey Bridge refers to the railway bridge at Halpins Corner and not the bridge at the Arthurs Pass entrance to the Otira Tunnel) The highway realignment is a fairly major project that has replaced a long twisty and undulating stretch of SH73 with a straight flat section with excellent visibility and weatherproofing by bringing the highway parallel to the railway for most of the section. But it is very strange that it ends at the one way bridge across Rough Creek on the outskirts of the town, without replacing that bottleneck with a two way structure.