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20 July 1974 Pichi Richi Railway

 20 July 1974 Pichi Richi Railway

On 20 July 1974 the historic Pichi Richi Railway was re-opened after much hard work by members of the railway’s Preservation Society. The railway had fallen into disrepair in the 1960s as the narrow gauge line was used infrequently and damage to the Saltia bridge in 1968 put an end to any traffic. As early as 1860, when mining in the northern parts was in full swing, there was agitation for a railway to this area, but agreement about where the line should go was not easily settled. Eventually in 1874 a Commission on Railway Construction recommended the building of a line from Port Augusta through Pichi Richi Pass and thence to points north. The first ambitious plans were somewhat reduced by the time work started in 1878 and the line was built in three stages with the last section to Government Gums (or Farina, now a ghost town) being opened on 17 May 1882. The main camp and offices were at Woolshed Flat in the Pass and another camp housing Chinese workers was at what is now Quorn. In 1884 the line was extended to Hergott Springs (now Marree) and in 1891 to Oodnadatta. The completion of the standard gauge line from Port Augusta to Marree which handled the Leigh Creek coal saw the beginnings of the demise of the old line, until its resurrection by the Preservation Society intent on providing a glimpse of the past steam era in the diesel age.

Booklet: Opening of the Pichi Richi Railway, 1974.

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