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Baldwin Loco Works official photo, Wb 297, 1898

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Discovery of Wb dump site.

Wb 292 and Wb 299 lie alongside Coal Creek, Seddonville

Wb 292, foreground and Wb 299 lie alongside Coal Creek, Seddonville early in 1989. PHOTO: Hugh McCracken

The dumping of Wb 292 and Wb 299 had been reported in the New Zealand Railway Observer early in 1960. Railway tours of the West Coast paused at the site for photographs. Railway enthusiasts continued to visit the wrecks over the years.

The railway between Seddonville and Mokihinui Mine was closed in 1974. Vegetation reclaimed the formation and the locomotives. Rust and vandals took their toll.

Salvage planning

By 1987 the railway formation was completely overgrown, the only way in was to wade up the creek bed. The locomotives were a sorry sight, Wb 292 particularly so, half-buried in sand, cab and tank plates rusting right through. At least three other locomotives had been salvaged from New Zealand rivers - including K 88, a Rogers 2-4-2 of 1877. Salvage and repair of Wb 292 and Wb 299 looked possible, if not a little daunting.

In the first few months of 1989 planning got underway in order to ascertain exactly how to salvage the locomotives.