Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 44, September 2000
By W E Lawrence
A recent walk on the old rake line brought back memories long gone.
When the Junction Mine ceased dumping tailings in the Ohinemuri River in the early 1920s, the water soon cleared and the kids started swimming in it. Then some inventive kids made a canoe out of a sheet of corrugated iron that they had flattened out, with a bit of 4 by 2 inch nailed on at the ends, and we were away!
From the dam, just below the confluence of the Waitete Stream to the bridge at the lower end of Victoria Street, following the river course, it would be the best part of three kilometres, plenty of space for fanciful names.
Just below where the bridge is now, there was a crossing that the early farmers had to use to get their horse and gigs into town. There the water, particularly in the summer, was only inches deep, but further down, as it equalled the level of the dam, there were good swimming holes. The first was where a rock protruded into the river course, it was The Bend and about a further hundred or so metres down stream there was a ledge that was called The Landing. Further down stream, at some time the bank had slipped away taking a couple of willows and they were known as The Islands. Further down, opposite the end of Bradford Street there was an area of tailings and it became known as The Sands and it became a favourite spot for adults as well. About one hundred and fifty metres above the dam was The Black Bridge that carried the rake line over the river, about seven or eight metres above normal water level. It was called The Black Bridge because the superstructure had been tarred for preservation. Some of the more adventurous kids used to dive from the decking.
But times change and with motor bikes and cars, the beach and other places were only minutes away, and also kids' outlook changed. Still, they were happy days then.