The Argus at KellyGang 30/9/1876

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The opening of the Beechworth Railway was celebrated to-day by a demonstration organised by the residents of the town and adjacent districts who desired to express their appreciation of the boon of direct communication with the metropolis. The arrangements to celebrate the completion of the line were on a scale commensurate with the importance of the occasion to the district. His Excellency the Governor accepted the invitation to be present, and a large number of visitors from Melbourne and elsewhere were invited, including the Ministry and many members of the Legislature.

The special train, which conveyed over 300 ladies and gentlemen, left the Spencer-street station at 10 minutes past 9 o'clock, in charge of Mr Heikle, the locomotive superintendent. The train was a heavy one, consisting of 15 carriages, and was drawn by two powerful goods engines. Short stoppages were made at Seymour and Benalla and at Wangaratta, at the latter place an additional engine being put on in order to get over the heavy gradients on the second section of the line between Everton and Beechworth. The line to Beechworth branches off from the North-Eastern line of railway at Wangaratta, the distance between the two towns being 22½ miles. The line was divided into two sections; the first one from Wangaratta to Everton, 12½ miles, was completed and opened for traffic on the 7th of July, 1875.

The second contract, from Everton to Beechworth, 10 miles, was let on the 18th June, 1875, and the time allowed for the completion of the contract was up to the 31st of March, 1877. Messrs Fishburn and Morton, who were the successful tenderers for the work, have, however, pushed it forward so vigorously that they are enabled to have the line open for public traffic six months before the contract expires. There is a very great difference between the cost of the two sections of the line. The first 12½ miles only cost £31,957, or on average of £2,588 per mile, while the second section of only 10 miles has cost £70,018, or an average of £7,001 per mile. The average cost per mile of the whole line has been £4,559. The great contrast in the cost of the two sections is, however, easily explained by the character of the country. The first section runs through a nearly dead level country, Everton being only 277ft. higher than Wangaratta. The junction is 502ft. above the level of the sea, while Everton is 770ft. above the level of the sea.

There were scarcely any earth-works to speak of on this section, and hence its cheapness. It is, however, very different on the last section. There is a steady and rapid rise directly after Everton is left, and for about five miles the gradient is 1 in 30, which is the steepest gradient allowed now. A few years since such a steep gradient would have been laughed at by engineers. In addition to the steep gradients there are also two very sharp carves of 40 chains radius. The earthworks on this section are very heavy. The principal one is between the 16th and 17th milepost, where no less than 91,000 cubic yards have been removed, a great portion of it being solid rock which had to be blasted. As showing the heaviness of the work on this section, it may be said that during the first nine miles the line rises 1,050ft. In the last mile there is a decline, for while the highest point reached at 21¼ miles is 1,829ft. above the level of the sea, Beechworth is only 1,774ft above the level. There are several heavy bridges also on this section, the principal one being at Horseshoe Creek, about 14½ miles from Wangaratta. This consists of 10 openings, each of 15ft, while the depth to the bed of the creek is 30ft. It is an ordinary pile bridge, as are all on this line; and cost £650.


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