Saturday, 3 June 2017

Otago Central Railway [22C]: The 1987 NZRLS convention excursion to Clyde - Comparison shots

Over the Labour weekend of 1987 (around the 24th of October or thereabouts) an excursion was held by the NZ Railway and Locomotive Society as part of their annual convention. In those days various factors made it possible for the NZRLS to have these conventions based around the country with train excursions and they chose this year to hold their convention at Queenstown, starting from Dunedin with a train to Clyde, buses from there to Queenstown, a trip on Lake Wakatipu on the Earnslaw steam launch and a ride on the Kingston Flyer from Kingston to Fairlight. The NZRLS AGM was (as was customary) held during the convention.

There were a number of us who for various reasons only took the train ride from Dunedin to Clyde and/or return. Some people associated with Weka Pass Railway that I knew took only the outgoing trip to Clyde and returned by car to Christchurch. But almost everyone else except me and the OETT volunteer train crew took the full convention package to Queenstown.

If I use my computer I can come up with these dates and therefore give the full itinerary as it happened from my perspective.

  • Friday 23 October (Evening): Neill Cooper of Ferrymead organised an overnight train from Christchurch to Dunedin. It had at most two carriages and/or a van or car-van and a DF locomotive. We got a photostop at the Cliffs tunnel just as it was getting light.
  • Saturday 24 October (Daytime): At Dunedin our train was made up in a consist of a full guard's van, four carriages, buffet car and another four carriages. So we had 8 carriages on the train, which means there could have been something like 200-300 people there. A lot of those old wooden cars only had something like 35 seats in them, and we don't know if the number of cars matched the number of passengers. What I do know is they were all the wooden cars because the Taieri Gorge Limited was operating that weekend and they got the modern cars. We started from Dunedin with DE 1412 on the head until we got to Wingatui where the locomotive was changed to DJ 3482 for the run up to Clyde. We got to Clyde in the late afternoon where the locomotive and train were stabled and I went down to the Clyde camping ground to spend the first night there in a tent.
  • Sunday 25 October (Daytime): I went for a walk up to the railway yards to discover the OETT guys were there preparing to take the train out for some afternoon trips. They offered to let me sleep on the train that night so I packed up at the campground and brought all my gear back to the railway yard and loaded it into the van. The train was taken out to somewhere near Lauder that afternoon with DJ 3482 and a second loco on the other end and some trips were run for a community group. I slept on the floor of the train that night.
  • Monday 26 October (Daytime and evening): The NZRLS guys came from Queenstown on their buses and we all got on the train for the trip back to Dunedin. We crossed the Taieri Gorge Limited at Hindon. We got back to Dunedin and for those of us going by train back to Christchurch (the same special we came down on on the Friday night) it was a case of quickly taking our stuff out of the van and walking down the platform to our train at the far end and getting on board. 
For the purposes of this post I have only bothered with locations on the actual rail trail that can be reasonably located or reproduced in Streetview so the many photostops we made between Dunedin and Middlemarch are not included. You can find the entire set of photos in my Flickr photo albums.

For a number of reasons it is not possible for the comparisons to be exact, as streetview imagery is obviously taken from a fixed non adjustable position, their cameras have very wide angle lenses, different lighting conditions, etc etc. If you want the exact coordinates they can be read off the bottom of the streetview images. Click on any image to see it at a larger size.

The order of the photos is a bit random as the photos come from several different films as I had two or three cameras with me that weekend so unfortunately that is the way it will be for this post.

At Clyde after arriving from Dunedin on the first day.

This is really a best guess as it's very hard to compare today in this area which is the Manuherikia River valley between Galloway and Alexandra.

The Manuherikia No.2 bridge between Chatto Creek and Galloway

The Manuherikia No.1 bridge between Lauder and Auripo, or at the western entrance to the Poolburn Gorge. The design of this bridge is somewhat similar to the Poolburn Viaduct and they could easily be confused but for the different colours they were painted at the time. The comparison shot shows plant machinery on the bridge as scaffolding was being put in place alongside it for some sort of maintenance at the time (April 2016). The name is slightly misleading as the Poolburn actually joined the Idaburn by the Poolburn Viaduct and the actual gorge is in the Idaburn, not the Poolburn, so it should really be called the Idaburn Gorge. 

Prices Creek viaduct (the 1963 version) between Hyde and Tiroiti.

Ranfurly station.

A bit of the Ranfurly yard including the goods shed (which came from Ida Valley station after that closed in 1975. The Ida Valley station building was taken to a location detailed in a previous article in this series.)

Poolburn Viaduct. One of the obvious differences from the nearby Manuherikia No.1 bridge is the former's piers are made of masonry instead of solid concrete. 

Clyde. This is preparing to leave Clyde for Dunedin on the Monday. The yard was organised around two widely spaced sets of sidings; the rot started, if you like, when the engine shed was put in the middle of the east end of the yard and the sidings were then put on either side of it and run straight up the yard, resulting in this big separation. The yard must have been fun to shunt because the two sets of sidings were only joined at the east end of the yard, which was as much as 1 km from its west end, so to get from side to the other, a distance that could be walked on foot about 75 metres, could be up to 2 km by rail. The rail trail follows a diagonal path from the south sidings to the north sidings so it isn't actually on a rail route when it goes diagonally across the yard.

Muttontown Gully Viaduct between Alexandra and Clyde. Given the tiny stream at the foot of it, it should have been replaced with a culvert and embankment (as the highway used) instead of being allowed to waste away to a structure that trains by this time could only take at 15 km/h. Although it has been alleged allowing the bridge to reach such a poor condition was a deliberate motive to justify closing the line.

The westernmost horseshoe curve on the Tiger Hill (Chatto creek end of this section)

The same location with the train setting way back around the far end of the curve.

The same location again with the train off the curve heading towards the crossing of the highway.

The easternmost curve of the Tiger Hill (Omakau end of the section).

Between the two tunnels in the "Poolburn" Gorge. As I recall it we climbed up above the mouth of the easternmost tunnel (no.12) to get our photos.

Oturehua. We made a lunchtime stop there to visit the Hayes Engineering Works which is a Historic Place locally. I chose not to visit the works and stayed on the train instead.

The goods shed at Clyde (1907 station) was moved after the original part of the railway from Clyde to Cromwell closed in 1980 as it became part of the Clyde Museum complex. The buildings in the complex have been closed at present due to earthquake risk as they have been run down and will need a lot of work to make them safe let alone catch up on years of deferred maintenance.

The 1907 Clyde station in the middle of the town. This was bypassed when the new Clyde station was opened further north in 1980. A bogus "vintage machinery museum" that was never more than a storage site for some farm machinery enthusiasts took a lease on the building from sometime in the 1980s until about three years ago. Since then it has been occupied by a rail trail related business.

Another shot at Oturehua, this is the No.67 Gorge Creek (sometimes labelled as Idaburn due to its proximity to the Idaburn Dam, not the stream) bridge just west of the station. The main geographical distinction of Oturehua is that the section of track between it and Wedderburn saw the line curve from more or less north-west at Wedderburn to south-west at Oturehua. The overall direction of the railway from Wingatui to Wedderburn was generally northerly and Oturehua is where it turned to go southerly for the rest of the distance to Alexandra, which is about as far south as Hyde. The route of the railway was quite circuitous, dictated as it was by politics and geography. It had to skirt the Rock and Pillar, Rough Ridge and Raggedy ranges and apart from the gorges (Taieri and Idaburn particularly) more or less followed State Highway 87 from Middlemarch to Kokonga, State Highway 85 from Ranfurly to Alexandra, and State Highway 8 from Alexandra to Cromwell.

Just for the sake of interest I have included some shots taken on the Sunday afternoon trips. I haven't been able to work out the locations of where these were taken, it's supposed to have been somewhere around Lauder. All that I remember is there was a pretend "hold up" of the train by someone on horseback.