Peak Hill? I hear you say, where the hell is Peak Hill? Well I'm glad you asked.
It is a small country town in the Central West of New South Wales, {Grain Growing Country} approximately half way between Dubbo and Parkes, on the Newell Highway. By rail Peak Hill is half way between Parkes & Narromine, just a mere 498 kilometres from Sydney. Now that you know where it is, you can read on with a little more knowledge.!!!
The benefits and advantages of the railway, were not lost on Peak Hill's citizens, who sent a deputation to the government in 1899 for a rail connection to their town. Such a line would not only serve the community but also provide superior transport for the copper and gold mining operations at Peak Hill. Indeed, the mines at Peak Hill had their greatest production period from 1899 until 1919. There is never any free stuff of course-- tax-payers' money and much hard construction work went into building the railway. It was not easy to complete. However, its benefits upon completion were many and the community were delighted.

Exploration of a suitable route was undertaken in 1899 and again with greater zeal in 1906/1907. Prior to building the line, a temporary junction was laid at Narromine on 17 November 1908. Tenders for the track formation, were accepted on 5th May 1908 and for the buildings on 28th October of that year.

The flat country over which the line passed, required few earthworks with negligible grades, ensuring speedy construction. The Narromine-Peak Hill line was handed over on 6th December 1910 and regular trains commenced running six days later. Engine loads for C, D261, L, B & A classes of engines (later 12,16,21,25 & 19 class) were issued in 1910, indicating the classes of engines operating in the district at the time.

At Narromine, an engine shed with coal stage and water supply were provided on 2nd April 1911, for engines running on the Peak Hill extension. A carriage shed was opened at Narromine on the same date. The completed link to Parkes was soon to follow. The Parkes to Peak Hill line was authorised under parliamentry act in November 1911, and work started on the line's construction on 16th May 1912. The Public Works Department using day labour, undertook construction this time. The line was sufficiently advanced by 12th June 1914 for the Public Works Department to run a mixed train service conveying goods and passengers.

The line was officially opened on 30th September 1914. The slightly undulating country over which the line passed required numerous 1 in 100 grades in short lengths but nothing steeper. On the completed link, Parkes to Narromine is taken as the direction for down trains, and distance points on the line are measured from Parkes. In the steam days, a 60ft turntable was provided at Peak Hill, which had the only water facilities along the line, consisting of a tank with 8 inch jib on the main line plus a 12 inch column on the loop.

Thanks and acknowledgement for this information go to Bob Booth from his article on 'Dubbo' which can be found in Roundhouse December 1987

Apart from it's central Position in the New South Wales wheat belt, there is no reason why Peak Hill became the site for Australia's first bulk wheat silo. It appears evident by the correspondent's remark in the Sydney Mail August 14th, 1918, while reporting the first trial at the newly completed Peak Hill Silo, that there were many others under construction at different locations around this period. However, it was not until 1927 that the next stage, the six-bin silos and weighbridge complex, was completed at Peak Hill. In 1950 the construction of three additional 50,000 bushel bins was carried out and the bulkhead was completed in 1959.

The first two years of operation saw little wheat delivered to Peak Hill's new silo as 1918 & 1919 were very dry years, with only 14 & 12 inches of rain respectively. A bumper year in 1920 saw the silo filled for the first time. It is interesting to note that the government paid a two shilling and six pence bonus on wheat in 1920, because of the shortage brought about by the drought. With this bonus, wheat that year was worth 7/6 bushel or one pound two shillings and sixpence per bag, certainly a lot of money in those days.

The following is an extract from an article from The Sydney Mail, August 14th, 1918.

'A satisfactory trial was recently made at Peak Hill (writes our correspondent) of the first of the completed silos for the bulk handling of wheat. Many farmers were present from the neighbouring districts, as well as from distant parts of the state and from Victoria, to witness the demonstration. Two truck loads of wheat were brought up for the test, and about a dozen wheat lumpers were instructed to take the bags from the trucks, cut them open, and empty the contents into what is called the receiving grating of the elevator leg. The machinery, was driven by a Ronaldson oil engine. It soon became apparent that although the men were going as fast as they could possibly go, the receiving grating, was eating up the wheat faster than they could put it in, notwithstanding that the engine was only going at a medium rate of speed. A number of farmers then took a hand at opening the bags with pocket-knives. The truck of 200 bags was put through in 18 minutes, at a rate of about 2000 bushels an hour. It is estimated with a greater engine speed, 2300 bushels per hour could be handled. The elevator leg mentioned, is part of the machinery to be installed in the future, when the grain will be received in bulk and empitied direct into the leg grating. It will also be necessary, one day to load grain in bulk from the silo to the trucks, and with a leg of this capacity, four trucks per hour, will be easily loaded. There are six types of silo ranging from one-bin to six-bins. That illustrated has a capacity of 50,000 bushels. The inside diameter is 26ft and it is 70ft high.'

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