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11 August 1919 Railway Viaduct

 11 August 1919 Railway Viaduct

The last train to pass over the viaduct on the eastern line through the Adelaide hills did so on 11 August 1919. When the line through the hills to connect Adelaide with the eastern colonies was first decided upon in 1878 it was realised that it would be a massive task. The first section from the city to Mount Lofty required the construction of eight tunnels and two bridges. The viaduct was in two sections; the first was 360 feet long and stood 100 feet above a gully and linked two tunnels, the second was 260 feet long and stood 78 feet high. The tunnels were dug by navvies wielding picks and shovels and they were paid 7 shillings a day for their efforts although this was raised to 7s 4½d after a strike in 1881. Gangs began the longest tunnel of 400 yards from both ends and met in the middle. This section of the line opened in 1883 and it was another four years before the first train ran to Melbourne. When the heavier locomotives came into operation the viaduct was deemed unsafe and a line skirting the gullies and a new and longer tunnel was built through Sleeps Hill.

Tom Dyster, Pump in the Roadway, Investigator Press, 1980, pp.76-8.

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