Otago Central Railway [29B]: Chatto Creek

When I wrote my last post part of it was about the difficulty of getting good quality aerial imagery of some places. A bit of lateral thinking along with resurrecting the Linz aerial footprints layer has helped me obtain more quality aerial imagery of a few places, although the part of Alexandra covering the Fulton Hogan siding still eludes me but there are several surveys from the 1980s that don’t yet appear in Retrolens as well as plans in Archives NZ Dunedin so I will somehow get on top of that one, one way or the other. What I have managed to get hold of is 1956 and 1965 high resolution coverage of Chatto Creek and I expect to be able to find more coverage of other areas as well but I was not able to get 1960s coverage of Galloway although I did get partial coverage of Alexandra from 1956. The key has been the realisation that the survey footprints are in some cases way off and using the footprints layer to get surveys that are close to our area of interest means I can position the Retrolens map to the centre of those footprints and then get the maps off them that way, but the one of Galloway turned out to be tantalisingly close but just not close enough. I have filed a ticket with Retrolens asking if we can have a survey number search because of the problem of having to know how to position their map to get the images for the surveys.
Apart from that at the moment this will be the last yard diagram for a while as the priority is cleaning up Alexandra-Cromwell ahead of an article being published in a month from now, and looking at those maps and having put samples into the Google Plus NZRM Volume 12 collection there are a few little details needing to be tidied up to get them ready for release so that along with writing part 2 (Alexandra-Ranfurly) is the priority for now and I don’t need to draw all the diagrams right now to write the article but I do need to have them finished when that article gets published in January. So they will come through later. If you use the tag cloud at the bottom of each page of this blog you will see a new tag Volume 12 has popped up and has 64 articles tagged with it at the time of writing this, so articles in the blog will be tagged with their map volume number and this means there will be another link from the website to this blog using that tag, and over time every article in the blog will have a tag, some articles may be tagged KeysData instead of a volume if they aren’t volume specific. Just to reiterate Volume 12 not only covers the Otago Central but also includes the Kingston Branch and its branches but I have no idea at this stage when the Kingston stuff will be added to Volume 12. At some point not too long ago I did start drafting a map book for Volume 12 and this will be resurrected but possibly the first edition might only be the Central, but once the Central is completed it may well be the case that Kingston will be added fairly quickly in order to get the whole volume put together fairly quickly. So there will be work happening on that fairly soon as well.
Today this post is mainly about Chatto Creek which was another small station between Omakau and Alexandra. The Google Plus Volume 12 collection has an album in it for minor stations. And let us say minor stations are those that aren’t major. And major stations are the following:
  • Middlemarch
  • Ranfurly
  • Omakau
  • Alexandra
  • Clyde
  • Cromwell
One of the key aspects of those major stations is that none of them ever closed except when their section of line was closed. Another is they all had engine depot facilities for periods of their life. There are lots of criteria that could be used. So everything else is a minor station and Chatto Creek is a minor station. So in that album it will be added as a minor station with the aerials and maps.

 Overview of Chatto Creek.

Southern end of Chatto Creek. Some of the variable features are:

  • Two houses lower left. These were not present in 1938 but had appeared by 1956. The houses appear to be aligned to true north and are a state house type of pattern that is often seen in railway housing that was built after the period in which NZR stopped building their own houses. It’s not conclusive these are railway houses hence lack of label but it is quite likely but I would have to do more research to understand why they were needed at this time as they are not the only houses there.
  • The backshunt off the end of the siding. This is shown from the chainage charts but is not visible in the 1938 aerial photo which indicates to me it may have been lifted by that stage assuming it actually did exist to begin with.
  • Water vat at the north end was there from the beginning and important in the steam era but later removed.

Northern end of Chatto Creek. Noteworthy features seen here include:
  • The two houses H203 and H202 which are both shown in a 1938 plan of the ballast pit and the aerial photo from that year, as well as the chainage charts. House 202 was later removed (sometime between 1956 and 1965) and its function might well have been taken by one of the houses shown in the south end map.
  • Ballast pit and sidings. The original siding dated from the construction era and came off the main line to the north end (at 118.22 miles, which will be probably be added to the map) of Bridge 76 and went into what was a smaller pit at the time, the exact extent of which is not confirmed and the actual position of the siding needs to be marked as approximate. This was a construction era siding that was removed once the next pit along the line or a permanent pit was established somewhere else as there were many temporary pits used only for construction. 
  • Opposite the pit is the old construction era engine shed siding that went off at 118.02 miles which will be added to the map. Whether there was a turntable with this isn’t clear, nothing is marked.
  • The second ballast pit siding came about with the reopening of the pit for general use from 1921 to about 1960. Since 1921 was about the time the line was completed there must have been a need to establish this as a source of permanent ballast for line maintenance. The other major pits were at Doigs, Ngapuna and Hyde, with the Ngapuna pit being closed when Hyde was opened. Hyde closed in the 1950s, and Doigs and Chatto Creek pits both closed in the 1960s approximately so there must have been other pits outside Central that were available for a ballast source. The second ballast siding needed its own bridge alongside the existing mainline bridge and its route can be plotted accurately from the 1938 chainage chart diagram and the aerial photo of that year.