|A D255 locomotive at Bowenfels, c.1885|
During the 19th Century, improvements in transport and communication were of vital significance for the development of
|Baldwin 4-6-0 locomotive c.1900|
Construction, Problems and Later Improvements
From the late 1840’s there emerged a strong demand for the building of railways in
1. Bell’s Line of Road via
3. The three explorers' route already favoured by the road builders.
The third alternative was finally chosen as the one offering the least problems, both physical and financial. But, as in the case of the road, the difficulties of ascent and descent at each extremity of the mountain barrier were to occupy the technical and imaginative talents of those concerned for many years. A railway requires easier grades than a road, so the problem was a formidable one.
|Knapsack viaduct, c1870|
By July 1867, the railway was completed as far as Weatherboard (
|The Great Zig-zag, Lithgow c.1870|
The Lithgow or Great Zig Zag is an impressive piece of engineering. Two reversing points were again employed, but being considerably larger than its Lapstone equivalent, it required the construction of three large viaducts. Work on it began in 1866 and by October 1869, the railway line was completed as far as Bowenfels.
|Valley Heights station with gate-keeper's cottage c.1880|
Originally of light construction, the railway line over the
|Glenbrook Tunnel construction|
1. Lithgow end: by 1885, westbound traffic caused a bottleneck and a deviation to avoid the Zig-zag came under consideration. A new route involving extensive tunneling was opened in October, 1910.
2. Lapstone end: increases in rail traffic caused similar bottlenecks to those occurring in the west, while the shortness of the reversing stations meant a limit on the length of trains. This posed a severe disadvantage as freight increased and more powerful engines were introduced. In December 1892, a deviation avoiding the Zig-zag and incorporating a tunnel through the Lapstone Hill was opened. Evidence of the original Zig-zag route remains on Lapstone Hill. By 1911, because of the discomforts caused by the tunnel ‘spoor ventilation, the severe 1 in 30 to 1 in 31 grades, and the bottlenecks that occurred following the duplication of the line from Glenbrook to Mount Victoria, a further deviation following the gorge of Glenbrook Creek, incorporating a new tunnel through The Bluff and a new brick viaduct across Knapsack Gully, remains the present rail route. The grade was improved to 1 in 60. The old tunnel still exists and much of the old rail route, including the old Knapsack Viaduct, has been incorporated into the
Stimulus To and Influence Upon Town Settlement and Development
In the decades that followed the opening of the railway line, a large number of the present Mountains townships emerged and took shape around the new railway platforms. The railway provided incentives for town growth and development in a variety of ways:-
• Springwood was established in 1867 near the popular Springwood Inn, better known as Boland’s
• Woodford was opened in 1868 as Buss’s Platform. William Buss had been the popular licensee of the King’s Arms Hotel, or Buss’s
• Lawson began as
• Blackheath had a railway platform built in 1869. This was the location of the Scotch Thistle Inn, though evidence suggests it was closed at this time.
|Katoomba platform and staff c.1880|
With grades varying from 1 in 33 to 1 in 66, the climb between
|Lapstone Zig Zag|
A further influence the railway has had on the pattern of development in the