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The Piako County tramway at Waiorongomai

This tramway, the main engineering feature of the goldfield, as difficult and expensive both to construct and to maintain, but without it mining was impossible. Involving three inclines and three levels, with a short trestle joining it to the battery, it served most of the mines, most of which were above it and linked by chutes or short tramways. It was neither cheap nor easy to operate, partly because of the topography and the weather. To construct it required much more financial assistance from the county council and the government than originally envisaged. Surveying the route took five months, and construction was prolonged as the cost escalated. Once in use it was found to need modifications and over the years many repairs were required. Miners claimed its charges were exorbitant, and because of the high cost of running it some wanted it leased, which did happen for a time. Whatever form of ownership and whoever was the tramway manager, it was never cheap to run and complaints about costs continued; and government financial assistance was obtained periodically, and reluctantly. After the First World War, the county was convinced to retain the rails and even to make more repairs, but the latter ceased after 1924 and the line was abandoned and became unusable. Not even the minor revival of mining during the Depression convinced local or central government to repair it, and in the early 1940s many rails were stolen. There were many accidents during its operation, but only one fatality.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Te Aroha Mining District Working Papers
Hart, P. (2016). The Piako County tramway at Waiorongomai. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 77). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart