Meekatharra to Peak Hill WA

 
  morerail Locomotive Driver

Location: Donnyrook WA

Does anybody know if there was ever a line constructed between Meekatharra and Peak Hill in WA ?

Why I ask is that my father who spent years in the Murchison area before the second world war had mentioned such 
a line - built to transport manganese ore south from Peak Hill southward. He said that only one or two trains of ore
traveled the line then circumstances changed and the line was unused.

My father would have been 100 this year if still alive and I was not sure if he was mistaken.

I forgot about it until today I saw the  " Portlink Inland Freight Corridor Plan " on the Pilbara - Golfields link Study thread
and the map shows a lot of since closed lines PLUS a line marked heading north from Meekatharra.

Somebody on this forum must know if the line was built and if not why it appears on this map

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  SKVT Junior Train Controller

Location: Iapetus
Does anybody know if there was ever a line constructed between Meekatharra and Peak Hill in WA ?

Why I ask is that my father who spent years in the Murchison area before the second world war had mentioned such 
a line - built to transport manganese ore south from Peak Hill southward. He said that only one or two trains of ore
traveled the line then circumstances changed and the line was unused.

My father would have been 100 this year if still alive and I was not sure if he was mistaken.

I forgot about it until today I saw the  " Portlink Inland Freight Corridor Plan " on the Pilbara - Golfields link Study thread
and the map shows a lot of since closed lines PLUS a line marked heading north from Meekatharra.

Somebody on this forum must know if the line was built and if not why it appears on this map
"morerail"


There was a line from Meeka to Peak Hill. It was built to service a maganese mine, but never saw any regular traffic. Apparently, the mine failed because the price of maganese dropped before ther line was completed, and suitable loading facilities were never provided at Geraldton. Only one or two test trains ran along the line after its opening, one of which is reported to have been a stock special. Malcolm Searle had an article about the line published in the ARHS Bulletin in or about 1983. The late Len Purcell wrote a two part history of the line that was published in the HVTRs "PSX" in the mid 90s. Both are worth locating as they give a comprehensive history of the building and closure of the line.
  drwaddles In need of a breath mint

Location: Newcastle
Hi morerail - I was curious so I did a quick search on Trove which has heaps of old newspapers digitised and text searchable. 
 

It would appear that your father is correct, although I am not sure of the details. Here's a few interesting excerpts:

From the Geraldton Guardian, 11 December 1926:

A boat was expected to leave Newcastle shortly with rails for the Meekatharra - Peak Hill railway.



The Geraldton Guardian, 16 June 1927, has some pictures of workmen constructing the new line:




From the Geraldton Guardian, 8 October 1927:


Steady progress is being made with the construction of the railway from Meekatharra to the manganese deposits at The Horseshoe, near Peak Hill, and the actual laying of the line will be completed in a very short time. The line in addition to the transport of the manganese ore will also provide facilities for the carriage of stock, trucking yards having been constructed at the Murchison River, and which will cut out a particularly stony part of the stock route, and save several days in bringing stock from the Gascoyne and further north.



The The Daily News, 30 November 1928 suggests that the line had been completed by 1928:

The Country Party Leader recalled that the Peak Hill railway from Murchison to the manganese field at Horseshoe, which was built with Government assistance, had cost £2500 a mile - £2100 less than the estimate for Government construction.


And finally, there's a really good description of the railway and the works at Peak Hill/The Horsehoe in the Geraldton Guardian, 13 November 1928. The article is too long to type here so click the line and have a read. 

  morerail Locomotive Driver

Location: Donnyrook WA
Wow! Thanks to SKVT and drwaddles for your replies - I think this
line is forgotten in many WA railway publications.
  HOWARAS Deputy Commissioner

Location: Woodanilling
Hi all, I did a survey job up at Peak Hill last April and had a look around for any remains... anyways spoke to the owner of the last original Peak Hill townsite building (which still stands), a bloke by the name of Tony Burrows... anyways he remembers that it was the first or second train to run on the line Horseshoe Line derailed and the loco and wagons were just left in their derailed state for many years and the line never reopened.

There was also a 2ft gauge tramway at Peak Hill Townsite and I believe the small 2ft gauge steam loco on display in the park across the road from the shire office in Meeka, was from that railway.

I did find some very light rail lying around Peak Hill, but no remains of a track bed.

The Horseshoe Range, is off to the north west of Peak Hill and Tony assured me, you can still see the track alignment... but only just... from the road to Horseshoe...  I did see a depression in the ground along the road.. bout half way between Grt Northern Hwy and the Peak Hill Turn off on the Horseshoe rd... and it looked to be a rail alignment.. but it's been along time since the line was there... it could of been from anything..

Also I've heard there was a property up at Peak Hill which used to have old rail vans, which were used as quarters for people staying in the area... but that was 10, 20 years ago... so wonder if they were the wagons from the derailed train...

Cheers

Don
  drwaddles In need of a breath mint

Location: Newcastle
Thanks SKVT - I have found Searle's article in the August 1984 edition of the ARHS Bulletin
 

What looks like the original survey maps are reproduced in there - they indicate that the railway travelled quite a way west of the stock route/road from Meekatharra to Horseshoe and didn't actually pass through the Peak Hill townsite. HairyLeg has attempted plotting the route on Google Earth here but it doesn't seem to correlate to any formation that I can see and due to the small scale of the drawing in the Bulletin article it is quite rough. 


It doesn't help that I am completely unfamiliar with the area. 


Key notes from the Bulletin article:

- WAGR Weekly Notice No. 39 of 1927 reports that passengers, goods, livestock and parcels will be conveyed on the rail line on and from 1/10/1927
- Sidings were at 23 Mile (23mi), Murchison Cattle Yards (48mi), Peak Hill (68mi) and Horseshoe (80mi)
- A serious derailment occurred on 28/12/1927 at the 42mi
- A WAGR inspection tour in August 1932 note that the line was very much overgrown, badly washed away in places and the sleepers are filled with white ants
- WAGR rconditioned the line for traffic in August 1933 to allow rail receovery trains to proceed along the line
- Rail recovering/lifting of the line was completed by 27/1/1934
- The only recorded traffic carried on the line, with the exception of construction and recovery trains, were a few stores for one of the local cattle stations and a trial shipment of 86 tons of manganese to England
- After WW2, manganese was carted by road from Horseshoe to Meekatharra and then railed to Geraldton

 

The author offers a few explanations for why the line (and the Manganese Co. failed):
- The Company & PWD never reached an agreement on the rail survey and consequently the line was never officially opened (this may explain why there's no trace of a rail reserve in the cadastral boundaries in the area)
- Lack of suitable rolling stock
- Lack of suitable facilities at Geraldton Port for manganese export
- Depressed manganese ore prices
- Inability for the company to meet its payments to the WA Government for the govt contribution to the line

The author also notes that the only remains of the line, when the article was written, was the manganese siding at Meekatharra.

  GSRailway Chief Train Controller

Location: Western Australia

Horseshoe Mine Railway Meekatharra

 

The Horseshoe range is located 18 Milesnorth westof Peak Hill.

To tap the rich manganese reserves it was proposed to build a light railway from Horseshoe to Meekatharra to meet up with the WAGR line.

The General Chemical Company  was to construct the railway and operate the Mine.

Land had been set a side for the railway ,the mine owner was construct the railway at their own expense to satisfaction of PWD.

 

The route was from the Meekatharra cattle yards and along side thePeak Hill Roadfor about 42 miles then bearing a little west of peak hill by about 5 miles.

The rail way was constructed by the WA Firewood Company.

The railway construction started on 20 may 1927 at a rate of half a mile per day.

(WAGR Weekly notice no 39 1927)

Stated that from October 1 1927 passengers ,goods ,Live Stock and Parcels will be conveyed from points on the Horseshoe railway.

Sidings where 23 mile , Murchision Cattle Yards 48 mile , Murchision River 68 mile and Hoseshoe 80 mile.

 

WA Goldfields Firewood Company supplied 2 locomotives no 6 G Class by Beyer Peacock and co ,no 11 G Class built by James Martin both after the railway closed went to no 6 Bunnings Bros and no 11 to state saw mills.

WA Goldfields Firewood Company as well as WAGR supplied rolling stock for used on the railway.

The railway was laid directly on the ground and was causing concern.

On the 28 December 1927 at the 42 mile mark a number of WAGR wagons where involved in the derailment.

PWD refused to accept the completed rail ,and its was never officially opened.

 27 January 1934 the railway was pulled up.

 

Information from book Meekatharra end of the earth

Extract by  MJ Searl

 

 

Railways of Australia 2012

 Cheers Daryle

  clarkey84 Beginner


Hey Morerail,

Like 'HOWARAS' I also worked up at Peak Hill Station a few years ago and Tony Burrows is the man to talk to.
My job including walking up the old rail line, we used it to gain access onto mining tenements.
It runs parallel with the Great Northern Hwy (north of Meekatharra) and best accessed by the Horseshoe road (near Doolgunna Station, If you go past here you have gone too far).
He is also right that its pretty much gone but a few clues were left behind like old bottles that scattered from being thrown from the train and a few old rail lines bundles up.
You may be able to see see it from Google earth.

Good Luck with your quest

Clarkey

  crisfitz Chief Commissioner

Location: Enroute somewhere
All,

Bringing up an old thread.

I have just returned from an "expedition" of like minded people to both Horseshoe and Peak Hill. Without going into great detail we found most of the Meekathara - Horseshoe Railway (including the 23m siding, Murphy's Well and the loco depot at Horseshoe) and the Peak Hill tramway from the mine site to town.

Whilst there is not a lot of infrastructure left there is enough to make it a very interesting place to visit.

When I get a chance I'll put some photo's up of the trip.
  8888 Chief Commissioner

Location: Shire of Mundaring
All,

Bringing up an old thread.

I have just returned from an "expedition" of like minded people to both Horseshoe and Peak Hill. Without going into great detail we found most of the Meekathara - Horseshoe Railway (including the 23m siding, Murphy's Well and the loco depot at Horseshoe) and the Peak Hill tramway from the mine site to town.

Whilst there is not a lot of infrastructure left there is enough to make it a very interesting place to visit.

When I get a chance I'll put some photo's up of the trip.
crisfitz

A few years ago Lindsay Watson gave a presentation on the Horseshoe railway to a Rail Heritage general meeting.  Perhaps a chance for a follow up Cris?
  drwaddles In need of a breath mint

Location: Newcastle
All,

Bringing up an old thread.

I have just returned from an "expedition" of like minded people to both Horseshoe and Peak Hill. Without going into great detail we found most of the Meekathara - Horseshoe Railway (including the 23m siding, Murphy's Well and the loco depot at Horseshoe) and the Peak Hill tramway from the mine site to town.

Whilst there is not a lot of infrastructure left there is enough to make it a very interesting place to visit.

When I get a chance I'll put some photo's up of the trip.
crisfitz
Any chance of some photos cris? Smile
I may have the opportunity to have a look around there next year so a mud-map would be handy too...
I'm wondering what the crossing of the Murchison at Gum Well might have looked like - any trace of concrete footings or similar?

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