Lapstone Hill Railway Routes
Lapstone Hill was the first major obstacle to be overcome in the
construction of the railway over the Blue Mountains. As in the case of the road, various
routes have been adopted over the years.
Lapstone Zig Zag
Engineer John Whitton wanted to tunnel through the hill. A tight budget prevented this, so a zig zag (or switch-back) was constructed. This device
necessitates reversing the train up, or down, one of the three legs of the zig zag route.
Gradients ranged from a steep 1 in 30 to 1 in 33.
The zig zag was bypassed in 1892, when Old
Glenbrook Tunnel was opened. The present route, up Glenbrook
Gorge, opened in 1912.
The route adopted involved an impressive sandstone viaduct over
Knapsack Gully. The viaduct was the largest in Australia, being 388 feet long and
120 ft high with 5 spans of 55 ft and 2 of 20 ft.
Construction commenced in 1863. The line was opened to
Weatherboard (now Wentworth Falls) on July 13, 1867.
A second, more spectacular zig zag was constructed on the western
escarpment. Known as the Lithgow Zig Zag, it is now in use as a
|Originally built to carry a single railway
track, the bridge was later fitted with a new concrete deck, enabling it to carry 2 lanes
of road traffic. It formed part of the Great Western Highway until being by-passed in the mid 1990's.
Today it is used only by pedestrians, bicycles, emergency vehicles, &
the Olympic Torch Relay.
The photos show the viaduct today, & under
construction around 1863.
Photo above © 1997 D. Martin
The line followed what is now the highway, from a point just
beyond the sharp right-hand bend (driving up the hill).
Glenbrook railway station was in the park roughly opposite the
Tourist Information Centre. The line continued along today's
highway, swinging off to the right near Graham St, Blaxland.
Knapsack Viaduct is signposted from the motorway (Emu Plains
exit). From the carpark near the junction of the old highway
& historic Mitchell's
Pass, a footpath follows the old railway & highway route
to the viaduct. From here, a path descends below the stone
arches then ascends to Elizabeth Lookout. Alternately, follow
the stairs up to the old zig-zag railway formation at Top Points
& Lucasville Platform. From here, follow the zig zag's upper
road to Knapsack St, or the middle road down to Knapsack Quarry
& the highway. On reaching the highway, continue south to
Skarratt Park South, & the
Glenbrook Tunnel, or follow the highway's paved footpath back to
Lapstone on Wikipedia…
Lapstone Station on Wikipedia…