Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 36, September 1992

By Fred Pratt

After the 1981 flood I visited the water falls on Creans Road. At the bottom of the falls I was amazed to see a pair of cart wheels in the middle of the pond, sticking up above the water. About six years afterwards I had the pleasure of talking to Mr Tom Crean who later passed away in December 1989. I told him what I had seen at the falls.

He said that he and his father had been the first to deliver milk to people in Waihi with horse and cart. One morning when the creek was in flood, he thought it would be safe to cross, so put his horse into it. His words were, "It was deeper than I thought, the water was halfway up the horse, the cans started floating in the cart. I jumped out and only just made it to the bank. I saw my horse, cart and contents disappear over the falls. For several days we searched the creek for miles, without any trace of any part of cart, horse or harness. The wheels you saw were probably mine."

This happened before there was a bridge on Creans Road. There was no Victoria Street bridge either, only a swing bridge for people to walk across and a ford below the present bridge.

Waimata Falls
Waimata Falls
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 36, September 1992
Waimata Falls

My father and Mr Shepard, who was a bridge builder, built the first Victoria Street bridge. I saw the start and finish of both bridges. I was present at the Victoria Street bridge the day it was finished. I remember seeing Mr Shepard driving the last bridge spike. He drove it half way in, stood up and said, "Well gentlemen, when the spike is driven in the bridge is finished." He gave it a couple of hits with an 8 pound sledge hammer, stood up and said that's it - and the bridge was finished.

I was also present at the opening of the Victoria Street bridges. At the opening of the first Victoria Street bridge they built a table of the planks that were used for boxing. It was on the left hand side of the bridge going out Frankton Road. On this table they had several big cheeses and four or five big barrels of beer. There was a ribbon across the centre of the bridge. Tom Kennedy drove his black pony and gig to it; they said a few words, cut the ribbon and he drove across. It was a wonderful sight for us children. We knew exactly when Harry Ashby's draught horses would be going to Waitawheta to graze for the weekend. It was a sight and sound.