Rimutaka Tunnel 1877

The original Rimutaka Tunnel was pierced in March 1877, and newspapers of the time excitedly discussed the route that the railway would follow when it reached Featherston in the succeeding 12 months. At the time, it was estimated that more than 1 million bricks would be required to line the 576 metre-long tunnel.

Myth has it that, later that month, the project manager for the tunnel popped into the local brickmaker and plonked an order for a million bricks on the counter. The shopowner is reputed to have uttered a now familiar response ” … a brick!” at this windfall. Overhearing the conversation, the brickmaker’s cart-horse Neddy quit on the spot and was last seen heading for the Kaimanawas where he became famous for founding a dynasty.

Returning to reality, the original tunnel was host to the famous Fell Railway about which much is written elsewhere. The tunnel was replaced with a newer, more convenient tunnel of 8798 metres in 1955, and is now part of a popular walking and cycling track.

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