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Author Topic: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area  (Read 682 times)

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Offline Keithmuller

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Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« on: December 29, 2020, 04:40:30 pm »
Finding the Tunnel

All we had was the co-ordinates from the thread in Wild Dog 
S27 27.532 E29 52.426  We had been past Ingogo and up the Barryfield pass  to Wakkerstroom via the Zaaihoek Dam. Over a very long lunch we had debated on which way to return to the farm. I had mooted the idea of finding the tunnels a few weeks before, intrigued by the Abandoned Tunnels thread in wild Dog.
 

Offline Keithmuller

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2020, 04:41:49 pm »
As it is these days with our very clever iPhones, search the co-ordinates and a map, among thousands of other results is presented, and from there it was quite easy to get a basic idea of how to get there. After aiming through the Volksrust traffic chaos of Christmas Eve, we made it to as close as we could get, a locked farm gate prevented us from going any further, but we could see the old track from this position, alongside the new one, so we knew we were on the right track.

Taking the next turnoff, on corner lower on the Majuba pass netted us a road that again lead us to the right area, but we had no idea how to actually access the “road” leading up to the tunnel. After going up and down the road, amongst a small settlement, we found a road that appeared to lead to the right area. After getting off the motorcycle we fought our way through thick bushes and shrubbery and managed to scramble down to the line on foot. It was a very hot day, and standing in front of the tunnel there was this amazingly cool breeze emanating from the tunnel. From the entrance the other side can clearly be seen.
Interesting facts: the tunnel is 674m long with a gradient of 1:70

There is also an amazing amount of water coming out the tunnel, which, interestingly I see in some of the original photos from 1891, more on that later.
The ladies had decided that coming down to the track/tunnel entrance was Not on the to-do list, and decided to stay in the bushes, eventually working their way back up to the parked motorcycle’s.
 

Offline Keithmuller

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2020, 04:42:35 pm »
By now it was getting late, and we were all a bit hot, and we still wanted to go home via Quagga’s Neck, which would eject us at top of Botha’s pass, and then an easy way back to the farm on dirt roads once more.

This necessitated us going back up Majuba pass, and then taking the clearly marked Quagga’s Neck road, where there is another Boer War monument.


There are amazing views and vista’s in this part of the country, I am always amazed at the diversity of the terrain, and the beauty thereof.

After the long slow ride over Quagga’s neck we needed a break. Shirley and I have stopped in this location often, and taken pictures. Her farm is just behind us, on the other side of the road, and the valley lies in front of you in its resplendent green hue, the new railway bridge just visible in the left middle of the picture, just as it enters its own tunnel.

The storm clouds in the distance were dumping rain over the Barrowfield pass area, where we had ridden earlier.
 

Offline Keithmuller

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2020, 04:44:57 pm »
Over drinks that evening Jimmie and I discussed taking a quick ride up early on Christmas morning to see if we could get onto the original line, and simply ride up to the tunnel, and then through it.

Fairly early on Christmas morning we rode out the farm and up Majuba pass, watching the original abandoned line as it came and went next to the main road. We came upon an area where you could look up into the settlement, and, where the tunnel must be… we peeled off the main road and road on the original ballast, which at times was quite entertaining in the way it rolled under the bike… We quickly found that where we had parked, and turned around the day before was mere meters from where we could have joined the track… hindsight is always 20/20!

We rode up to the entrance with ease, marvelling at the original stone work by the stonemasons, the detail is amazing, and the craftsmanship superb, its a travesty that more people do not get to see, and admire this amazing work.
 

Offline Keithmuller

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2020, 04:46:14 pm »
It was obviously electrified at some point, the insulators still visible in places.

After admiring the immense work that must have all been done by manual labour, we rode through, and out into the sunshine on the northern end. On this side, the tunnel entrance is a mirror of the lower entrance, with amazing stonework, although some twit had placed a bracket right over the date on the keystone when it was electrified, probably just a worker who was told to secure a bracket, and he did, but still a shame to do it in this way.

 

Offline Keithmuller

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2020, 04:47:00 pm »
We then followed the line north towards Charlestown, hoping to find a gap in the fence that we could get through, but the fence was amazingly good, considering the area. We did however find a point where the armco barrier comes to and end just before a bridge where you can get back onto the N11.

This is well worth the effort to see, and explore, and highly recommended to have a fun and interesting ride.

My wife did some research on the tunnel and found this article:
https://grahamlesliemccallum.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/langs-neck-tunnel/

Its well worth the read, including a part where the tunnel was blown up by the Boers not long after it was made, and then re built

An interesting add on to this is that there are 2 further tunnels below, one just outside Ingogo , and another a little further on… Im still waiting for more info on the middle tunnel, but do know its on private land and will need permission from the land owners to view. The lower tunnel has been filled in by a farmer… remember its in Ingogo, a settlement, so, what was happening is that livestock was being stolen in the area, and then hidden in the tunnel. No one would look there, and a few days later they were moved out. Obviously, to stop this happening the tunnel has been filled, problem solved, except that we can’t view what this tunnel looks like, very sadly for us.
 

Offline petri oosthuizen

Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2020, 05:11:03 pm »
Wow VERY nice thanks :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline dw1

Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2020, 10:13:19 pm »
Great report!
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Offline Noneking

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2021, 03:58:16 pm »
Had a look at some of these on a recent trip to Memel...

Thanks for the pics :thumleft:
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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2021, 09:18:39 am »
Please tell me you revved your bike when you rode through the tunnel  :biggrin:
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Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2021, 04:18:36 am »
Thanks for sharing, we have such a rich history of determination in SA, still much to see.

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Offline Tony the Boney

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2021, 06:08:21 am »
Very interesting  :thumleft:
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Offline Edgar

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Re: Abandoned Railway Tunnels in Newcastle Area
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2021, 09:45:41 am »
Excellent photos, thanks for sharing.  :thumleft: