Author(s): Bill Prebble
The Charming Creek story is one of West Coast pioneering enterprise. Brothers Robert and George Watson, at the turn of the century set about extracting timber from the Charming Creek valley by way of an incline over the Radcliffe Ridge. Slow, and hard on horses tasked for the job, they subsequently blasted a ledge through the spectacular Ngakawau Gorge for a new tramway. Morphing into a coal railway with the opening of the Charming Creek mine, this tramway ferried miners and workmen to the mine each workday in open coal trucks. The story of the men, this fledgling company, and how they coped with the Depression and war years, successive bridge failures, runaway trains, and a riot, add intrigue into an otherwise fascinating operation. Personal accounts from those that worked both the Charming Creek line and mine are well documented, together with photographs on some of these exploits. The final chapter features the current DOC walkway, written as a guide for those visiting this fabulous site, one of the little-known wonders of the West Coast.