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WATER COMMUNICATION WITH THE INTERIOR.

Y euy few people know what is being done and projected to render the Clutha River navigable. Yet is a work of very great importance to the dwellers on its banks, having for its object the utilisation of this vast waterway to that part of the interior which is hopelessly shut out from railway communication, by reason of the diflicult character of the country through which the river passes. The first step in this direction was taken so long ago as 1874, when 50,200 acres in the vicinity of Balclutha were set apart as a reserve for this purpose by Act of Parliament. In the following year this valuable endowment was vested in the Clutha River Conservators’ Board, and from time to time, asrevenue has accrued, portions of the river have been cleared of snags and rocks ; so that it is now open from the sea to Olydevale, a distance of about thirty miles. To this point a steamer—the Matau—has been running for some time, to the great convenience of settlers. Works now in progress will clear the river to Tuapeka Mouth, and the coir pletion of these is promised in a few weeks. Tenders have been invited for the continuation of the work up to Beaumont Bridge, where the main Lawrence-Clyde road crosses the river; but it appears that, for some unexplained reason, not a single tender has been sent in. Last year the jurisdiction of the Conservators was extended to Coal Creek, above Roxburgh, about 100 miles from the sea ; and Mr G. M. Baer, C.E., has now made a careful survey of the river from Beaumont to Coal Creek, and from thence to Alexandra. In 1877 Mr Blair, the then District Engineer, surveyed the river from Tuapeka Mouth to Cromwell, estimating the cost of clearance at £ 135,000. The sum was considered too great at that time, and the subject remained in abeyance until last year, when active steps were resolved upon. In 1877 the explosive power of dynamite was not understood, and bellite had not been invented. The introduction of these agents has rendered the opening up of the Clutha feasible. Mr Barr’s estimate for the removal of obstructions from Beaumont to Coal Creek is £23,650, and from Coal Creek to Alexandra £41,250 —in all £64,900. It is now proposed to prosecute the work to Coal Creek if the ways and means can be provided, leaving the upper section for future consideration. The revenue of the Board is, we learn, something over £7OO a year, which is much too small to enable them to undertake works of such magnitude for many years. Unless, therefore, Government assistance is invoked in some shape, there seems little prospect of anything beyond the Beaumont being undertaken for some time.

A railway from Lawrence to Roxburgh and thence to Alexandra, where itwould join the main Central line, has often been projected. We do not know that there are any insuperable engineering difficulties in the way of such an undertaking; but such is the rugged nature of the country that the average cost of its construction, a moderate estimate, would not be less than £7,500 per mile, or, say from Lawrence to Roxburgh—4o miles—£3oo,ooo. There is, therefore, no comparison in the cost of the two routes. Besides, river communication has this advantage once opened, it requires no outlay for repairs or maintenance, but is there for all time. Isolated as the dwellers in the Clutha Valley from Balclutha to Alexandra now are, this cheap method of communication, with the coastal districts for the conveyance of produce and merchandise would be an incalculable boon; and it is to be hoped that the Board will be able to devise some means of carrying out their proposals. The counties may well aid, because of the saving of wear and tear on their roads, and the Government may fairly be called upon to assist what is, indeed, a colonial work, and would open up for settlement many pieces of good land along its course. According to Mr Balfour (late Provincial Marine Engineer) the ordinary flow of the Clutha at Balclutha shows that it carries to the sea nineteen times more water than the Thames. It is generally supposed to be a rapid river; but such is not the case, the appearance of rapidity being caused by the presence of obstacles which dam its waters back in places, and create a rush where they break over these. Mr Blair estimated the elevation of Cromwell above the sea at 525 ft, and the distance at 110 miles. This gives an average fall in the river of 4|ft per mile, equal to a gradient of 1 in 1,100. The stillest gradient is between Ettriok and Clyde—7ft to t>he mile. Mr Barr reports the current between Beaumont and Roxburgh as varying from 3 to 7 miles per hour, which would be equalised by the removal of the rocks that obstruct the course of the river. “ Taking a general' “ view (we quote from his report) of “ the river between Beaumont Bridge “and Coal Creek, it may be stated “that, of the whole length of 28£ “miles, there are only four miles on “ which there are any difficulties at all “ formidable; while on the other six- “ sevenths of the distance the river, “ even in its natural state, offers con- “ siderable facilities for steamboat “traffic.”

Mr Barb points out that the execution of these works, bit by bit, from the lower end would be quite possible, and that “thus the river could

Hr* in.ii)'' r i‘i \ ii'-iil'li* f 1 *•(> liy si' No doubt (his is r > : but ii llio Hurd of Ooiikitvuiuiv; liiivc to cany it onl from tlicii* present revenues, it will take them thirty years to get to Coal Creek'. And vet the work is a most desirable one, and should, if possible, he prosecuted without delay.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18891007.2.2

Bibliographic details

WATER COMMUNICATION WITH THE INTERIOR., Issue 8031, 7 October 1889

Word Count
980

WATER COMMUNICATION WITH THE INTERIOR. Issue 8031, 7 October 1889

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