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
- 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.