Goldfields Rail Infrastructure Needed to Keep Mining Industry Rolling

THE ROADHOUSE HISTORY FILES: In 1895 the potential of the Goldfields was just being realised and what was also being realised by the miners of the day was the dearth of Government understanding of what was required to establish and keep the industry going.

126 years ago, and the two main Goldfields newspapers of the day were holding the Government to task over infrastructure.

It can, at times, seem just like yesterday…

 

THE KALGOORLIE MINER

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1895

 

The Bill authorising the extension of the railway from Coolgardie to Kalgoorlie has passed its second reading and will probably become law within a few weeks.

In one evening the measure was read a second time and carried, through committee almost without discussion or amendment and its final adoption by both Houses is now assured.

No greater compliment could have been paid to the field than this, especially when it is remembered that the Coolgardie line was opposed at every step, and the full weight of the influence of the Government was needed to carry the Bill through.

No doubt the attitude of the members was to some extent influenced by the fact that the longer line is being constructed for a merely nominal price, but in a much greater measure the almost unanimous endorsement of the action of the Ministry in determining upon the line was due to the general recognition of the value of the mines of the district.

Of the richness of the properties on the main lines of lode no doubt can be entertained by any reasonable man and we have the assurance of Herr Schmeisser, the great German authority, that the mines are permanent.

The output of the few properties in the neighbourhood that are already crushing are the chief outturn of the vast interior goldfields of the colony and the members had little option but to carry the railway bill through.

At the same time the thanks of all interested in the mines and the district generally are due to the Ministry for their speedy action in this matter.

The first request ever made for the extension of the line was that put forward by the public meeting held some five or six weeks ago and the Premier at once responded by giving instructions, for the preparation of the bill authorising the work.

This cordial sympathy with the wants and demands of a new goldfield is creditable alike to the Ministry and the members of the Assembly.

It is in strange contrast with the grudging spirit in which the N.S.W. House treated Broken Hill, and should do much to reconcile even those wild spirits who, wherever they may be, are ‘ again the Government.’

It will be at least ten months before the construction of the line can be commenced, but it is satisfactory to know the work will be put in hand directly the section now being constructed is handed over.

This will be in July next, and within three or four weeks from that date Kalgoorlie will be in direct railway communication with the coast.

How great a boon this will be to the district it is unnecessary to state as the saving on the haulage of plant and machinery for our mines will be sufficient to pay a dividend on some of the stocks, while the cheapening of the cost of living resulting from the cheapening of stores will enable the miners to make homes for themselves and their families in the town.

It is not too much to expect that before the line reaches us Kalgoorlie will contain a population of at least 20,000. people, and the railway which is being so readily granted should be the best paying line in the colony.

 

COOLGARDIE MINER

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1895

 

LIGHT RAILWAYS

THE Government have decided to construct the Coolgardie to Hannan’s Railway, and their decision has been endorsed by the Legislative Assembly, and will, beyond doubt, receive equally prompt endorsement at the hands of the Council, and of the country.

Mr. Moran’s suggestion, that the work might be proceeded with at once, instead of being delayed until the completion of the line from Southern Cross to Coolgardie, might also have been adopted, for in that case, the opening of both might reasonably have been looked for almost simultaneously, and the effect upon the advancement of the field at and beyond Hannan’s, by reason of the greater and cheaper facilities thereby afforded for the carriage of machinery and supplies, would have been immense.

But “half a loaf is better than no bread,” and we must at least feel gratified that the line is practically au fait accompli.

Following their determination in this matter, the Government might now go one better, and place themselves still more en rapport with the mining community—and
we include in the term, the British and Continental investros (sic), whose monies are coming amongst us — by considering the advisability of constructing steam tramways or light railways from Cooigardie and Hannans to the adjacent fields.

They could be laid down at, small cost, for speed need not be considered as a necessity.

A light line sufficient for the speed of, say, ten to fifteen miles an hour would meet the requirements, and while the cost of such lines would be small, the returns would be amply sufficient to warrant the necessary outlay.

If we consider the number of mining companies, developed and in course of development, that will require the erection of ore-reducing plants within the next year, we must at once recognise the immense traffic that has to be provided for in some way or other, and it presents itself at once to the Government as a simple, commercial question, whether the departure we are advocating will prove financially a success or otherwise.

We on the fields, who are becoming acquainted with the mineral resources of the district, and who cannot fail to understand, to some extent, the future progress that is ensured to will be prepared to ardently support the Government in the proposal, and we may reasonably surmise that they will not be averse to a step that will increase the colony’s revenue and prosperity.

From Hannan’s, such places as the I.O.U., White Feather, and even Kurnalpi, might be reached; while connection from Coolgardie might quickly be established with Dundas, on the one hand, and 25-Mile, 45-Mile, Black Flag, Broad Arrow, and, in fact, all the mining settlements between here and 90-Mile.

Hundreds of thousands of tons of machinery will reach these places in the course of the next couple of years, and thereafter there will be constant carriage of supplies and mining requisites, not to speak of the mining timber that will then be available from the extensive forests between here and Perth, and which we shall, probably, have eventually to fall back upon for permanent and cheap supplies.

Moreover, on such level country, presenting no engineering difficulties, it would cost little or nothing to build and ballast the permanent way, and by laying down the same gauge as the present railway lines, transhipment would be avoided.

For even the heaviest rolling stock and loading could be ran over these proposed cheaply-constructed lines, providing only that a slow speed was maintained.

Whatever is done in the matter should be done speedily, and we are assured that if the Government feel disinclined to undertake the work, private enterprise will be forthcoming.

For there is the certainty of big returns from a small outlay, and those interested in the companies will assist in any movement that will serve to reduce the —at present—prohibitive cost of placing their machinery on their mines.

We commend the matter to the serious attention of the Government, and trust they will see their way clear to undertake the work.