oa Civil Engineering = Siviele Ingenieurswese - Ingogo to Langsnek - echoes and archaeology of railways and wars



It is a mere 10 km, as the crow flies, from the insignificant, abandoned railway siding of Boscobello to the original, disused railway tunnel at Langsnek. Along this short, extraordinary tract in northern Natal there remain relics of the early railways, and of the wars between the two main groups of European settlers. Many of the traces are difficult to spot, and modern travellers, rushing between Newcastle and Volksrust, brush past these two landmarks, largely unaware of the echoes of rich history that rang and still ring out in this rugged, lovely setting. Lunging up, as it were, between the two former independent Afrikaner republics, the narrow corridor lies between the escarpment mountains to the west and the Buffalo River to the east. On the heights of the true right bank of the river, the railway runs, and the wars were fought. We (the BERRT group, a small band of mostly elderly engineers) visited this area on a sunny weekend during September 2015, when the cawing of the Cape crows echoedin the kloofs, which were covered in flowering black wattle. We came to probe, and were pleased to find, from our admittedly narrow viewpoint, more than we originally sought: many traces of railway and military archaeology. This is our account.


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