The Railway Telegraph Line Struck By Lightning.
Mr. W. H. Floyd, Superintendent o: the Railway Telegraph, writes ;
On the afternoon of Nov. 11 a violent thunderstorm was experienced on the Malvern Branch Railway, which caused considerable damage to the telegraph line between Darfield Junction and Hawkins’ stations. Repairs were made early on the following day, when it was found that nine telegraph poles had been more or less damaged by electricity. Six of the poles were so badly shattered as to be fit for nothing but firewood ; the remainingthree, although considerably splintered, were good enough to be re-fitted and continued in use. The damage to the poles extended over a straight line of threequarters of a mile in length, but all the poles in that length were not injured. Commencing three-quarters of a mile from Darfield junction, the first pole was badly shattered, and only about a third of it left standing; the other two-thirds being split up into small fragments, and scattered about. The next pole, towards Hawkins’ Station, was perfectly safe. The third was as badly injured as the first, but the fourth and fifth were uninjured. The sixth, seventh, and eighth were badly shattered, and splintered from their tops to the ground-line. Between the seventh and eighth poles, at about the centre of the span, and also at about midway between the first and the last pole injured, the telegraph wire of No. 8 gauge was fused and parted, and over the whole of the 21 feet distances between the line of wire and the railway metals, the ground showed signs of disturbance. Three of the railway sleepers were shattered, and between one of them and the line of wire there were two strongly marked paths, resulting from electrical disturbance, of which lightning is commonly one of the evidences. These paths were partly tunnelled at a depth of fi om 12 to 15 inches underground, and to a diameter of about five inches, and partly cut to a depth of from four to five inches from the surface. The earth thrown up at the sides of the cuttings exhibited in patches a greyish color, that suggested the idea of its having been under the influence of fire. There was only one path at the shattered sleeper referred to, but a little way from it the path divided, and the two branches remained distinctly separate until they ceased altogether—six feet apart directly under the line of telegraph—as though each path had terminated in a separate end of the fused wire.
The ninth pole had only a piece of its top splintered off, and could be refitted. Between this pole and the railway metal there was a single path, partly tunnelled and partly cut, from the surface as previously described. In both cases the disturbance of the ground was greatest near the railway metals, and gradually decreased until it ceased altogether at the line of wire.
The tenth pole was only slightly broken at about a foot above the ground line. The eleventh had a slice two inches thick cleanly taken off one side, from top to ground line, and the slice was split up into matchwood.
The next three poles were uninjured, and the signs of damage ceased altogether at the fifteenth pole, which was badly shattered.
In the Darfield Junction Telegraph Office the station master and telegraphist were seated at work during the storm, when they saw a bright light apparently leap from one of the instruments to the floor of the office and heard a noise like the report of a fowling piece. That no damage was done to the instruments there, is probably due to the fact that the office is fitted with lightning guards of a very effective pattern.
A Foolhabdy Passenger.— A man named Breen, residing at Tiuwald, took his passage in the 11 o’clock express train from Ashburton on Friday, instead of the ordinary, and on finding that it did not pull up where he wished to alight he jumped off, the express travelling at the rate of 25 miles an hour at the time. He was picked up by Mr. W. Bennison and others in an insensible condition, but with the exception of a few cuts about his head is not seriously hurt. The Timber Trade.— The Sawmills at Pelorus Sound (says a Wellington paper) have resumed operations and are again in full swing. Notwithstanding the numerous brick buildings which are being erected in this city, the demand for timber has not very much abated, the saw mill proprietors affirming that their orders have not relaxed to any great extent. During the past two days, four vessels, timber laden, arrived from the Sound with cargoes representing an aggregate of about IG,OOO feet
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 26, 25 November 1879
The Railway Telegraph Line Struck By Lightning. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 26, 25 November 1879
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