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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:32 am 
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Wow. Just shows how extensive this forum is. I have been visiting this forum on and off for a few years now and only now I have stumbled upon this section and in particular, this outstanding topic. Many thanks to gmlsmit and others for contributing. :clap:

I have some reading to do 8)

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:01 pm 
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My pleasure and for your enjoyment! :D

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:14 am 
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The Selati Railway line Part 1:


I have recently dug up something that may interest someone:

BACKGROUND History

[Origin of name"Selati": As in the Selati Line, the Selati Gold Fields and the Selati Club. Named after Shalati, the female Chief of the Tebula people.

The history of the Selati railway line forms an important part of the history of the Transvaal Lowveld.

The discovery of gold, in the North-eastern Transvaal, was the economic factor which led to the establishment of the Selati railway line, from Komatipoort in the Eastern Transvaal. Concerns with shares in the land in this area, made strong representations for a railway line, to be constructed, to this gold-bearing area.

The quantity of gold recovered in this region would not have been of much use to a modern mining company.

Nevertheless it proved enough to launch one of the great railway scandals of the day. Baron Oppenheim, and his brother, floated the Selati Railway Company, in Brussels, to build a railway line, from Komatipoort, to the "new Transvaal gold field" near the Selati River.

The Transvaal government, of that time, immediately agreed, and the construction of the railway line began in feverish haste in 1892.

The most important contractor was Westwood & Winby. Workers from all over the Transvaal Lowveld were attracted to the new line.

Only the hardiest of men were able to survive in this inhospitable region, and most of them fell prey to fever. In his history of the Lowveld, Stevenson-Hamilton wrote, that many Europeans, and Non-Europeans, died during the construction.

It has often been said, that for every sleeper that was laid, a man died, and some contemporary writings seem to bear out this opinion.

During the construction of the first 112 km of railway line, which took two years and stretched up to "Reserve" (Skukuza), whole truck-loads of alcohol were consumed, and tens of thousands of antelope were shot, as rations, for the workers.

Within two years of the start of the construction, West-wood & Winby experienced financial problems, and work on the line immediately ceased.

Thousands of workers simply downed tools, and departed. Stevenson-Hamilton wrote that material and equipment were left lying around, and that anyone could go, and help himself.

Just how inhospitable the area was, is demonstrated by the fact, that when, (16 years later, at the end of 1909), it was decided to resume work on the line, some of the equipment, such as picks, wheelbarrows and shovels, was still lying beside the uncompleted railway line.

Work on the line began in earnest. The contractor responsible for the completion thereof, was the firm Pauling & Co. The work proceeded so well, that the connection to Tzaneen, was opened in 1912.

The line between the Portuguese border and Komatipoort had been opened on July 1st 1891, though the first train from Delagoa Bay did not reach Pretoria until October 1894.

The next step was to build a bridge across the Sabie River. But that was the end of the line, and of the company, which crashed, owing its creditors R800,000. This 80 kilometre line was one of the most expensive railways ever built.

Work on the bridge recommenced 15 years later in 1909, and by end of December, of that year, about half the structure was in place. So the centenary of the bridge completion was the year 2010.

The bridge was officially opened on 25 October 1912.

During the following thirteen years, one train per week was all that was needed to cope with the traffic along this line. However, just before 1925, conditions had deteriorated so badly, that the authorities considered replacing the service with one mixed train (goods and passengers) every fourteen days.

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:16 am 
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Nice dig up, gmlsmit! :clap: :clap:
Definitely of interest to me. :D

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:19 am 
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The Selati Railway line Part 2.

During the Anglo-Boer war (1899 to 1902), the Steinacker's Horse corps, were stationed at Sabi Bridge. The abandoned Selati line had proved useful to Steinacker's Horse, and a weekly train, carrying supplies, ran from Komatipoort to their large post at Sabi Bridge, 50 miles to the north and situated on the river of that name.

The first time it went up, so thickly had the bush grown over the line in eight years of disuse, that a gang of natives had to go in front of the engine, cutting down saplings, which were sprouting thickly on the permanent way!

When James Stevenson-Hamilton, first warden of the Kruger National Park (then known as the "Sabi Game Reserve") arrived at this place in 1902, then known as "Sabi Bridge", the "bridge was represented only by the foundations of its piers, which the river covered when it rose in flood. (The proper bridge was only completed around 1910).

It became Stevenson-Hamilton's private line after Steinacker's Horse left. If he wanted to get to Komatipoort he mounted a trolley and, propelled by manpower, made a leisurely journey through the wild country he was shaping into a reserve. At first the trolley was confined to a mere platform on wheels, pushed by a dozen natives working in relays.

Later the old trolley which Stevenson-Hamilton used, was supplemented by a more up to-date contrivance (somewhat like the modern version shown above), which boasted a pumping lever manipulated by men standing on the trolley itself. Stevenson-Hamilton called this the "passenger" and the old one the "goods" train.

Stevenson-Hamilton wrote: "To make the former more comfortable for the traveller, I rigged up on its front part a bench with a back to it like an ordinary garden seat, and thus travelled in state up and down the line, taking no more than five hours to do the fifty miles down to Komatipoort, though twice as long to return. With the goods train the itinerary was a matter of days, how many depending partly on the weight of the load, and partly on how eager or otherwise the propelling natives were to finish the journey."

In Komatipoort Stevenson-Hamilton would catch the train to Pretoria.

This was the only use to which the Selati line was ever put, until 1909, when the Transvaal Government initiated some projects ahead of unification, completed the Sabi Bridge, and extended the line first to Tzaneen, and later to Soekmekaar (1912), on the main line to Rhodesia.

This was one of the most picturesque routes in South Africa through big game country. A railway line made a great difference to an area that had always been regarded as the back of beyond.

The steam locomotives took water at Huhla siding just north of the Sabi Bridge. The small siding south of the bridge, at the place known as "Sabi Bridge" (named "Skukuza" in 1936), was known as "Reserve".

James Stevenson-Hamilton had first-hand experience of the conditions during this period after 1912:

"The line was now taken over by the South African Railways, and Sabi Bridge found itself served by one train a week each way, the hour on both occasions being about 2 a.m. For some inscrutable official reason, the siding and water tank for the engine had been placed on the other side of the river, amid uninhabited bush; while our side - the inhabited one - was not a scheduled stopping place.

Thus, for some years we were dependent for the delivery of supplies, and the taking up, and setting down of passengers on the good nature of the guard of the train. If he did not happen to be in an amiable mood, he could, for instance, 'deliver' fifty bags of mealie meal in the bush a mile away across the Sabie, whence our only means of getting possession of it - unless the river was very low at the time - would be to bribe the ganger to bring it over on his trolley, an act on his part liable to get him into serious trouble if found out. Of course, as soon as the railway construction began, I had been obliged to hand over both my trusty trolleys, and now, with only one connection a week with Komatipoort (and that involving sitting up at the siding until 2 a.m. over a campfire) I felt that the coming of civilization had altered my lot for the worse."

"The railway had also been responsible for the death of my faithful cook and body servant, Ali Sharif, a Swahili who had been with me since 1903 and had accompanied me in all my travels to different parts of Africa since that date.

His wife and child resided at a village across the Sabie River, and hearing that the child was sick, he essayed one night when his work was over to walk the three miles to visit it.

He was crossing the railway bridge over the river, which he considered a safe proceeding since only one train per week ran, but unfortunately for him, two employees of Pauling & Co. were returning - it being Sunday night - from a jollification in Komatipoort, and, travelling at a great pace on their motor trolley, cut him down and killed him. (Encumbered by his long white robe, he had been unable to get out of the way.) One of our police 'boys', Jase, who was with him, escaped by swinging himself on to a girder of the bridge."

The Selati Railway line played a part in the Royal family's visit to the Union of South Africa after WWII, when the white train which was used for their transportation, was parked at the Huhla siding.

It also played a major part in promoting the Game Reserve as a tourist destination for those who felt the need to experience the wild of Africa.

Around September 1973, the Selati railway line, which ran through the Kruger National Park, was used for the last time.

This section of line, which entered the Park just north of Skukuza, and left it near Crocodile Bridge, used to carry several trains every day. The trains not only disturbed the Park's characteristic atmosphere of peace and quiet, but also affected its plant and animal life.

The National Parks Board, and other Government Departments, had decided that the protection of nature is more important than this historic railway line. The new route from Kaapmuiden to Phalaborwa and Tzaneen, winds along the western boundary of the southern part of the Park, and completely bypasses the reserve

A postcard of the Skukuza "Train Restaurant", with photos taken by B.K. Bjornson, shows the Selati restaurant in operation in the mid-1980's.

The caption on the postcard reads: "The steam engine used on the Selati Railway (1920-1972) together with galley, dining car, and bar-lounge is positioned at a reconstructed railway station in close proximity to Col. Stephenson-Hamilton's house on the then Sabi Game Reserve (1902)." Some of the coaches were destroyed in a subsequent fire, and today the scene is somewhat different to what is seen on the postcard.

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I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:25 pm 
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Some old photographs, the quality may not be too good but the memories - excellent:

the trolley:

Image

Image


the bridge:

Image

the postcard:

Image

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I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:37 pm 
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Location: Johannesburg - where they cut down trees and name streets after them.
Gerhard, this is awesome!! :)

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:44 pm 
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This is brilliant :clap: :clap: That old bridge is one of my favorites ( I do have a bit of a passion for old bridges) and can not go to the Skuks area without shooting a few pics :twisted:

MORE :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:47 pm 
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The Selati Railway line Part 3.


Steam Engine for Skukuza"

Custos Magazine December 1978

MORE than five years have elapsed since (in 1973) the last steam engine hissed, smoked and whistled piercingly as it busily puffed up and down the railway line that for more than 60 years carried traffic through the Kruger National Park on its way from Komatipoort to Tzaneen.

Soon there will be few traces of the line left, as the track is to be lifted, and the bridge across the Sabie River, is to be modified for use by motorised traffic. However, steps have been taken to ensure, that memories of the steam-engine era in the park, will remain forever green, and not be allowed to sink into oblivion.

A nostalgic gesture was made recently by the General Manager of the South African Railways, Dr Kobus Loubser.

He prevented this historic link with the past from being broken, by making a gift of a handsome Class 24 locomotive - at present on display at the disused Skukuza station - to the National Parks Board.

Like all "puffing billy" enthusiasts, he knew that, in railways, the beloved steam locomotive remained dominant well into the 20th century. However, in most parts of the world it has been almost totally replaced by diesel and electric locomotives.

Image

Image

The Class 24 steam locomotive "Number 3638" was handed over by Dr Loubser to the Chief Director of the National Parks, Dr Rocco Knobel, at Skukuza on Monday, October 23, 1978.

Image

Henceforth, the steam engine will be a permanent reminder of the times, when the Selati railway line ran from Crocodile Bridge, in the south, to Skukuza in the north.

Image

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I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


Last edited by gmlsmit on Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:56 pm 
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The Selati restaurant at the "Reserve" station:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Next time you visit the Selati Restaurant you may also experience what makes me enjoy the history of this wonderful place.

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No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:12 pm 
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Thank you glmsmit, I love all those old photos.

Found the articles very interesting :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:31 pm 
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Thanks from me as well. The info is not something that one scratches out behind every bush. Alot of hard work is put in with every posting. :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:31 pm 
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Thank you Very enjoyable I can remember in about 1970 while travelling in the south a train travelling parallel to us Just before Croc bridge ... the line can still be seen or at least the raised ground can

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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 7:19 am 
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Award to Dr. Ian Player.

The Anton Rupert Award for Lifetime Achievement in Conservation was presented to Dr Ian Player On 5 April 2012.

This, the inaugural Anton Rupert Award, was presented to Dr Ian Player by Mr Werner Myburgh, Peace Parks Foundation CEO, and Dr Frank Raimondo, member of the Peace Parks Foundation Board of Directors.

By handing him the Award, Peace Parks Foundation and the Rupert Family gratefully applaud and pay tribute to the exceptional contribution Dr Ian Player has made to conservation and the environment.

Dr Player’s enormous contribution to conservation has been recognised by many entities. By making Dr Player the first recipient of the Anton Rupert Award, Peace Parks Foundation is adding its vote of thanks.

Dr Ian Player has a distinguished career both in the formal and private conservation sectors. He has always seen that people must be brought into the conservation arena if protected areas, including wilderness areas and wildlife, are to survive.

Together with his colleague and mentor, Magqubu Ntombela, he brought people from all walks of life and parts of the world together to experience how wilderness and conservation of our natural resources are an integral part of living.

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No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.


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 Post subject: Re: LEST WE FORGET
Unread postPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 8:11 am 
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Congrats to Dr Ian Player!
An icon in conservation. :clap: :clap: :clap:


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