Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lapstone Zig-Zag Railway

The route of Lapstone Zig-Zag railway is now a popular walking trail. It can be accessed from Knapsack Street near the RAAF Base at Glenbrook.

As part of the construction of the first railway over the Blue
Mountains, the Zig-Zag Railway was built between 1863 and 1865 to overcome the step gradients (ranging from 1 in 30 to 1 in 33) of the Lapstone Hill.

John Whitton, Chief Engineer, originally wanted to tunnel through the hill. But due to budget constraints way back then, he designed a zig-zag (or switchback). This necessitated reversing the train, up or down, one of the three legs of the zig-zag route.

The photos, above, of the track today give a clear impression of the old zig-zag route.

Along the top points of the zig-zag are the remains of a platform. This was the Lucasville Station which was built in 1878 to service the holiday home of one, Mr John Lucas MLA, Minister for Mines. You can see the steps leading to the property but its exact location is not known.

With the completion of the Lapstone Zig-Zag and the Knapsack Viaduct, the railway line over the Blue Mountains was opened to Weatherboard (now Wentworth Falls) on 13 July 1867.

While this section of the Lapstone line was not to remain the permanent route as time passed, its construction was a significant achievement for John Whitton and his team.

Both Mary and myself have enjoyed the work of putting together the blogs on John Whitton and the Lapstone Hill. It s has taken much research, a few car journeys and lots of walking to piece the story together.

History Services NSW in its Government Contracts and Contractors database has many entries for railway contracts awarded by the NSW Government for the period 1832-1900.

Go the website at:

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