Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 22, June 1978
by LOUIS OTT
My first recollection was being carried, through flood waters from our home in Junction Road and with others taken by coach to higher ground. Around 1906 - 7 another flood carried away a bridge somewhere up river. Boys were using planks and sections of the bridge as rafts in the main street. Dad with his trousers rolled up to his knees was wading around the shop serving customers. Most side streets had large drains and the crossings at intersections were not too wide. I saw one local in Corbett Street miss the crossing in this flood. He was up to his armpits in water.
About this time we were living in a home later taken over by Nurse Odgers. Two sections away was a bulk store behind D. Evans shop and this caught fire. Although only a small building the fire was spectacular as four gallon tins of kerosene kept exploding. Later while living on a small farm opposite the race course, a storm named the "Queen Dido" by the late Clement Wragge did considerable damage. The whole roof of the grandstand was blown off and a large part of the wreckage was lifted over pine trees and strewn over our place.
A favourite Sunday walk was to the soda spring near Puke Wharf. The spring filled a small grassy well, the overflow going into the river. The usual thing was to have a drink there and take a bottle home. This property was taken over by a Mr. Flavell who started bottling. This was the beginning of Lemon and Paeroa.
Another early recollection was going to a Picnic Race Meeting at Netherton. We had to cross the river by ferry which was winched across. I can remember the late Billy Bain and George Pennell riding in a hurdle race. I think the meeting was organised by Jimmy Alley known as the birdman. Another interesting character was Hobart town Jack. He would run from Thames to Paeroa racing past the coach a mile or two before arriving in Paeroa.
From the Gold Extraction Works in Mill Road a constant rumble 24 hours a day could be heard caused by the flints in the tube mills grinding the silt. The residents were quite used to this noise and when on Christmas day the mill stopped, the majority, puzzled by the quietness, realized the mill had stopped. The cooling ponds at the mill gave us young ones a good deal of pleasure. Swimming, floating on rafts and fishing for goldfish which were plentiful and easy to catch. Somewhere around 1912-13 the Thames Express (Driver, Davy Fisher) was derailed at Cadmans Crossing. The second from the engine was a fish van from Thames. This was wrecked and an auction sale was held on the site. Many had cheap fish. Mr. Ott's father was one of the first butchers in Karangahake and later continued his business in Belmont Road, Paeroa. The shop was rebuilt in 1911 and subsequently run by Wells, Clarke and Brider before being dismantled in 1971 to make way for the Supermarket car park.