Fell Locomotive Museum (Featherson, NZ)

Trains are often depicted as heroes.

Choo. Choo.

Nobody doesn’t love train rides. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying. When I was in college I knew a guy called “Chooch.” Trains are inherently interesting to everyone and for a good reason. The romance! The unparalleled ability to move stuff! The metaphor for determination!

The extraordinary specificity of the local museum!

Which brings us to Featherson and the Remutaka Range (this is the acknowledged spelling, although you will still see it spelled Rimutaka in places). Construction on the railway was authorized in 1871. The site for the Remutaka Incline had a gradient that was, in technical terms, “steep AF.”

As seen here.

The system chosen to get trains up and over the incline was that of the Fell locomotive. It was arduous and slow but ran from 1877 to 1955. And the Fell Locomotive Museum is in possession of one of the six Fell locomotives that served the line, and now the only Fell locomotive in the world. It’s been restored enough to demonstrate its movements, which you can see here with the power of your imagination (I do have a video but I refuse to upgrade my WordPress account at this time).

chugga chugga chugga chugga

The museum has been nicely funded, and the exhibits include a model of the railworkers’ settlement and film of the train and workers in action. Mr. Exhibitist felt the film was perhaps a rosy presentation of what was an extremely isolated lifestyle for the workers’ families, but it is very nicely done.

As long as you didn’t have any sort of urgent need because there was everything was a slow, arduous train ride away.

Various artifacts of the rail line (there is still a train running through Featherson, but not on the Incline–the Fell locomotives and the line they ran on were taken out of service when the tunnel was made), news coverage, and information about the operation of Fell locomotives are in the museum, and the very knowledgeable volunteer docent can tell you a lot about it. I absorbed roughly nothing of these facts, but I remember that these contraptions had to do with passing identification disks to and from the trains. I think.

Probably if you zoom in you can find out

The centerpiece of the museum is obviously the locomotive itself, and you can get pretty up close with it.

Shoveling coal probably sucked.

Anyway, the Fell Locomotive Museum is a nice way to kill some time in Featherson, which is itself a pleasant place to kill some time outside of Wellington. It’s also a Book town, with many small bookshops and literary events. Just a swell little town. Entry to the museum is $6 for adults, $2 for children over 5, and/or $13 for a family. There’s a little shop! I bought a tea towel.

Not my tea towel; a sidewalk mosaic.

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