Yea's Historic Railway Tunnel
The Yea and surrounding districts have had many unusual place names granted, names such as Cheviot, Killingworth, Caveat, Ghin Ghin.
At Cheviot, a location about 5 kms from Yea, there is a magnificently built Railway Tunnel, which is well worth the effort or time for the drive off the Highway.
Cheviot Railway Tunnel
Above you can see the Tunnel going right through the rock.
Above is a closer photo of the entrance to the tunnel on the Yea side.
The photo above looks like a painted china plate, as the camera shoots from the dark surrounds of the tunnel looking back to Yea.
Above is a photo of the inside of the tunnel looking towards Yea.
Within the tunnel there are five of these safety stations built into the eastern side wall and spaced out evenly along the length of the tunnel.
The Tunnel exit on the Molesworth side of the hill.
Cheviot Tunnel is a historic 660-foot long brick lined railway tunnel built in 1889.
It is located in Cheviot Road, just a few kilometers from Yea, towards Molesworth. Turn right in to Limestone road and turn left in to Cheviot road.
Some background information about this great tunnel and the Cheviot railway station.
The tunnel is under McLoughlins Gap between Cheviot and Molesworth. If you continue up through the tunnel you will come out on Native Dog Road.
Accidents, floods and many strikes all delayed this construction, which took 2 years to build. The bricks were made on site from a clay deposit found nearby. In one serious explosion on the 14th December 1887, Peter Byrne who was aged 24, was killed and another man John Jordan died in Melbourne a few days later from the same explosion. Peter Byrne is buried at Yea cemetery.
Another worker called Fennel was buried under rock and suffered severe bruising. Another 24-year-old man named Daniel Driscoll was injured by a rock fall and later died from his injuries in May 1889.
Therefore the line did not open until between Yea and Molesworth until the 12th of November 1889.
Cheviot station was opened with the line in 1889 as part of the Yea to Molesworth extension. Molesworth to Merton opened in 1890 to be followed by Merton to Mansfield in 1891.
Yea is 83 railway miles from Melbourne, elevation 565 feet. The former railway line to Mansfield and Alexandra runs over undulating country for just over two miles, having crossed the Yea River, it commences a three mile climb upgrade on an almost continuous 1:40 grade with many curves, to the Cheviot tunnel. This long grade, which all Down (Mansfield bound) trains departing Yea, had to climb is relieved only briefly at Cheviot (83 1/4 miles, 665 f t) where the station yard is situated on a 1:200 grade.
From the Cheviot station to the tunnel is 2 1/4 miles. The tunnel itself is on a 1:60 grade against down trains, the top of the grade being at the Eastern end of the tunnel at an elevation of 927 feet. Having breasted the summit, the hardworking fireman of a steam locomotive received some respite as the train traversed the almost five miles of downgrade, three miles of it at 1:40 to Molesworth station (90 1/2 miles, 569 feet) immediately beyond which the railway crossed the Goulburn River.
The hilly section from the Yea river to Molesworth contains many 25, 30 & 40 chain radius curves, which when compounded by the gradients, certainly gave the locomotive crew some arduous working with which to contend with but at the same time the passengers would have enjoyed some spectacular scenery.
The timber traffic was mainly from Murrindindi forests (see the map by N.Houghton & G.P. Thorpe 1985 in the book by Houghton or in the Yea Visitor information center). The first timber started being loaded at Cheviot station only after a few years of being opened. The timber was brought in by horse drawn wagons.
The companies operating in the first years were:
Foran 1889 -1890, Vinning 1892 - 1906, Wightman 1893 -1901 (later to become the North East Sawmill Co), McKenzie 1899 - 1901. The hey day of Yea saw milling industry was from 1907 -1915 when the great War saw many men enlist and then another boom was between 1923 to 1930 when the onset of the Depression saw production greatly reduced as demand fell.
In these times of huge production there was in excess of 2.5 million feet of timber sent out each year over the tramlines to Cheviot.
These tramlines were built to alleviate the damage done to the roads by the heavy wagons of timber. So rough wooden railed bush tramways came in to Cheviot station yard where the large quantities of timber were transshipped to railway trucks. The first tramline was opened on 23rd October 1901, then extended to the station by 1905. The second commenced in 1925. They both stopped in 1937 when road trucks could haul the timber.
In 1920 a dead end extension was provided at the Melbourne end of the station yard and two 6- ton derrick cranes were installed to handle the great timber traffic. The caretaker station was to be empty from the 8th of April and the line become closed on the 16th of March 1970.
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