Thursday, 23 November 2017

Otago Central Railway [24B]: Oturehua update

Here is the updated map of Oturehua. This map was like many earlier ones of smaller stations, drawn from chainage charts which whilst proving reasonably accurate, have not always been up to date with later changes to yards. Hence this one does show some detail variation, although not major, from the maps I drew back in June.

Oturehua was an average medium use yard for the Otago Central line: it had a passenger platform, leanto station building, goods shed, stock yards and loading bank. The aerial photo used to produce this map dates from 1982 and makes it difficult to verify all the details. So far, earlier photography has not been obtained.

Since closure the yard space has been turned into a transport yard. The main entrance passes through the site of the passenger platform and building, requiring their removal. Consequently there are no yard facilities remaining; about the only trace of the railway history is the house still present at the north end. There was originally a house at the south end as well, but no trace of it can be observed in either this 1982 or current aerial photographs. The station building had a small annex at the north end like many others on the line.

There is a non-railway stockyard behind the site along with a couple of buildings. The purpose of this facility isn't very clear, but the railways had their own stockyard and this separate facility was as far as we known, never connected with the railway. Ravensdown have a fertiliser store next to the railway line at the south end of Oturehua but again, there is no apparent connection with railway operations in the township. 

That pretty much completes all the maps for Alexandra to Ranfurly, except for the Chatto Creek one that I will redo with an aerial photo tomorrow. There are a few stations missing because we can't get good quality aerials for them. Obviously Galloway is one of the ones I did from a poor quality photo that I won't bother to trace over, and Auripo is another. I have yet to be able to locate anything good enough of Ranfurly itself, and Ida Valley coverage currently isn't old enough, as this station closed in the 1970s. Retrolens is constantly scanning new material and in time a lot more will come on stream, but not for the immediate needs of this article series. OTGW does have a picture of Wedderburn as it turns out, it is one of the colour photos on page 57.

The same challenge exists for Part 3 particularly in relation to the Taieri Gorge section where there has been historically very limited aerial surveys, although again some that may prove useful has not yet been scanned into Retrolens. At the moment there is not good quality imagery of Waipiata, but every other station between there and Middlemarch (except for MM itself) is well covered, as is Sutton. Ranfurly coverage should come up when some of the large surveys of State Highway 85 are scanned; these dating from the 1950s and 60s were probably used in the upgrading of the Pigroot in that era, which was one of the major factors in increased competition to the railway in that time period. I have identified about a dozen surveys that should eventually produce reasonably high quality aerials to fill in most of the gaps, but it is difficult at the moment to see if Auripo will ever get a good map, although Ida Valley should.