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Early Railway Development and the Zig Zag system of ascent

Jan 25, 2019 | Blue Mountains History

When the Railway came to the Blue Mountains in the 1860s and 1870s it opened up this vast National Park for trade, residential demand, shops, sporting facilities and much more. Look at the photo:  you will see the 3 levels of the Railway line. Ingenious engineering of yesteryear!

To construct this railway many issues had to be overcome. The first big issue was the gradient to be overcome on both sides. The gradient was 1:33 which was too much for the trains of that era. It was solved with an ingenious system of Zig Zags for the trains coming up the range from Sydney and on the western side the mountains travelling up from Lithgow.

Construction of the Zig Zag railway was achieved with some magnificent bridges on the approach from both sides of the Blue Mountains. This system, the Zig Zag, was first used in South America to overcome the Andes Mountains.

With the advent of the railways, services and accommodation such as hotels and boarding houses were quickly built and increased tourist numbers followed. New villages sprang up in the Blue Mountains. Many of the wealthy families in Sydney built substantial homes throughout the mountains especially in Mount Victoria, Leura, Blackheath and Katoomba.

Our Blue Mountains Tour does not venture here. However it can be made available to a group on a Private Blue Mountains Tour.


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