Waterval Boven 11th June 2000 Photos and Report
|We had a lovely day yesterday (12 June) at Waterval Boven. The
regular Sunday Oosterlijn Express was running so we went to
ride/photograph it. A few people from Reefsteamers, Friends of the
Rail and the Boven club went down there on Saturday for a meeting
but we just went for the Sunday trip.
25NC 3476 was moved down there last week under light steam, but towed with a diesel. This loco is looking as immaculate as it always was whilst at Braamfontein. This loco complements 15F's 2985 and 2909 and ZASM B 230 which are already there. A pleasant surprise was seeing the ZASM B in steam, as well as 15F 2985, ready for duty on the Oosterlijn Express.
I elected not to ride the train, but rather to find a nice perch somewhere to photograph it. The train left tender first at 11:00 for the downhill run to Waterval Onder. I found a nice spot on the horseshoe curve above Onder to film the train on the way back. We had a great lunch at Onder at the Tickled Trout, wors rolls and hamburgers outside in the shady garden within easy walking distance from the train - highly recommended. I set off up the hill about 15 minutes before the train left.
From my high vantage point, I could see the train leaving Onder and disappearing up the valley, loco working hard. The echoes became confusing, making the loco appear to be coming from the opposite direction, then behind me, then fading completely. A minute or so later, it sounded like dozens of 15F's charging up the valley, as the echoes amplified and duplicated the locos efforts as if supporting the 15F in her climb up the grade. 2985 then appeared below me, charging out of a deep cutting under a pall of black smoke before disappearing again in the trees. A glance over my shoulder saw the loco emerge once more, digging her heels into the sharp curve as she turned through 180 degrees. Another cutting hid the loco near the top of the curve, but the pounding exhaust could not be smothered! Now above me, 2985 appeared once again across an embankment still working hard before diving into yet another cutting and exiting from view, as did the rear coach of the train soon after.
Making my precarious way back down to the highway, I drove up the valley towards Boven, trying to spot the train. Just before the road tunnel I spotted it on the far side of the valley, highlighted by the afternoon sun. The fine grey haze from the smokestack rolled across the hill, punctuated by a white feather from the sizzling safety valves. Once again the mountains and rock faces echoed their approvals of the 15F's exertions. Higher up I watched as the train wound along the valley, then across the high curved arch bridge where a passenger train met its tragic fate one night many years ago. I reached Waterval Boven station just in time for an arrival shot.
The return time was around 1:30 p.m. which gave plenty of time for a leisurely return to Pretoria, a great day's outing.
All photographs © 2000 Trevor Staats
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