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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973

by CONNIE BERNARD

I often think of my School days at Karangahake when I walked the mile or so from our home on River Road, where there are still many of the old houses. We were quite near the Railway line, to us then, a modern marvel. It was opened in 1905 and the great "double-decker" Bridge over which trains thundered into or out of the tunnel was a source of unfailing interest.

Slightly upstream from the bridge was the imposing "Crown Battery", indescribably immense and noisy to the child mind, as it toiled both day and night to crush the quartz from the Crown Mine more than a mile away. From the west side of the bridge we were quite near to an enormous chimney beside the building that housed a new electrical plant installed for the pumps draining the mine to the 1,000 ft. level. We could see the end of the concrete tunnel from which the clinker from the boiler fires was emptied into the Ohinemuri River. (The tunnel is still there today, but when the Mines closed the Power House was dismantled and sent to Wanganui). Ed.

Having crossed the bridge we faced the road - which had to be seen to be believed! Trains brought coal from Huntly to our Station but from there it was conveyed to the Talisman Battery (on the Waitawheta River) by "coal-carts", those high-sided horse-drawn waggons that lumbered along the road. A certain amount of the coal was dropped on the way and ground to dust by the iron wheeled traffic. In wet weather, and that seemed to be most of the winter, the dust became a black slurry which had a fatal effect on clean pinafores and made our footware unacceptable anywhere indoors.

But believe it or not we had a footpath! From the railway bridge to the town this consisted of a wooden platform along the river bank. It was built out over the edge like a sort of bridge with a railing on the river side. In frosty weather this railing was covered with sparkling hoar which we scraped up with our school rulers to make our version of snowballs. As all good things come to an end we finally had to cross the muddy road but there were compensations. As we approached the shops, the air would be filled with the sweet smell of fresh bread from the bakery, and then there was the fun of climbing the steep slippery path to the School on the hill where the rooms would be warm from the standing stoves.