Today I started work on the rail trail route from Middlemarch up. So far I have completed about 13 km, which is about 10% of the rail trail route. Along the way there have been bridges to check and locate, and three major sites to draw on the map.
It is clear that the chainage charts are an incomplete record and many features have been added through checking details of photographs in addition to the charts. More research would be needed to have a fuller picture of each station but as my resources are limited the only other option I have is to place a disclaimer notice on each yard layout over which there is any doubt.
Tisdalls Ballast Pit
This was located between bridges 38 and 39, just south of Ngapuna station. D&E record that ballast was loaded for use as far back along the line as Pukerangi once the tracks were connected up. I have seen a reference to a Middlemarch ballast pit but it is not known if this is this location or a different one. D&E state it closed 1934. According to the chainage charts, the points were removed and reinstalled at Hyde, where a new ballast pit was opened the same year.
Ngapuna is 7 km north of Middlemarch. It was closed to rail traffic in 1979. The small shelter shed was removed from the site after that date but has been reinstated for the rail trail sometime between 2011-12. It had a short loop with a backshunt at the westing end which followed a slight curve in the main line.
Rock and Pillar Station
This location is another 7 km further on from Ngapuna and adjacent to the SH87 road crossing which probably gave it more convenient access. At this stage it appears that Rock and Pillar had more facilities provided than Ngapuna, perhaps because of the better access direct off the highway. Not shown on the chainage charts are the houses nearby, the water tanks that supplied them, and a building on the platform next to the shelter shed which appears in a D&E photograph. The station lasted until 1981. There is nothing at the site today but a carpark has been nearby formed for the rail trail.