Flat Top Hill

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Comments (1)

Bruce Comfort on August 22, 2011

This is the last of three furnaces built on Flat Top Hill by Sophia McDonald [one of the two daughters of James McDonald] who continued her father's business interests in lime burning in the Oamaru/Alma/Kakanui area after his death. Constructed in 1902 the first kiln (see Kiln 1 and Kiln 2 photos) was erected to replace the diminishing resource on Fortification Road where professional geological interest in the fossils in the limestone there had convinced James McDonald that it might be time to move on and to a site where more than one kiln could be erected to meet a growing demand for burnt lime. After a bureaucratic nightmare, Sophia had a tramway built to connect this new site with Whitecraig's Siding on the relatively new rail line to Dunedin. The kiln was served by a small steam locomotive that brought coal to Flat Top Hill and took burnt lime away to the siding, and which, in addition, served as a sometimes conduit for vegetables grown on the rich tar soils of the area by a steadily increasing community of (mainly) Cantoneses Chinese vegetable gardeners who were moving to Oamaru to establish commercial gardens. This community still exists in greatly decreased numbers working greatly increased acreages per family.

The history of the McDonald Tramway has been written by >>>>>> in the >>>>>>issue of the NZ RailFan magazine.

The line of the tramway formation (which was constructed in two stages - see further information under images of McDonald's Kakanui Kilns on these pages) can be traced on the ground and in aerial photographs. Its construction date of after 1900 precluded its demolition and the uplifting and removal of the way being prevented or at least discouraged by the proviosions of the Historic Places Act which otherwise go some way towards protecting archaeological relices of our pre 1900 history.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on June 4, 2011
  • Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works
    by Bruce Comfort
    • Taken on 2009/11/27 08:29:43
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 18.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/8.000
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash