Mill Stream Walkway Historic Features
The remains of three power pylons can be seen beside Mill Stream Walkway. These pylons were erected 1912-13 to bring electricity from the Waihi Gold Mining Company Horahora hydro-electric plant on the Waikato River to the mine on Martha Hill. This was the first hydro-electric dam on the Waikato River.
There were 469 of these towers between Horahora and Waikino, carrying three solid copper wires of 10mm thick. They went out of service about 1970.
The alignment of these pylons: from the other side of the Ohinemuri River to approximately where Clarke Street crosses Mill Stream, to our bottom pylon site, to Pylon Paddock site, to approximately Baker Street turnaround, and on to the western side of the driveway and access way of Morgan Park (this may be the pylon moved to the Museum). Beyond this the route taken is unclear, though the destination was the Transformer House (demolished 2006), near where the Cornish Pumphouse used to stand on Martha Hill.
Below is an extract from the book: The Horahora Power Scheme, by Stan Rowe (and Barry McKey), RD 2, Matamata. 1997.
During this time an 80km transmission line on steel towers carrying 50,000 volts was built from Horahora to Waihi passing through the Hinuera Valley, Matamata, Turanga-o-moana and then crossing the Kaimai range through Wairongomai [Waiorongomai – E] and Waitawheta valleys to Waikino. Here the voltage was stepped down to 11,000 volts to be transmitted to the mines at Waihi. This was the longest transmission line in New Zealand at that time and great difficulties had to be overcome to take power over some of the rugged country across the Kaimai Range. Three solid copper wires each about 10mm thick carried the current and these were supported on a total 469 steel towers erected between Horahora and Waihi [Waikino - E]. P.6
THE POWER LINE TO THE GOLDFIELDS
This is one of the 469 steel towers that carried the 50000 volt transmission line from Horahora to Waihi [Waikino - E].
They were constructed on site from prefabricated parts and each tower was packed separately with each part numbered for ease of construction. They were not galvanised but must have been made of high grade steel because there was very little damage from rust over the years.
Each tower had an enamelled plate attached showing the tower number, a skull and crossbones and the words, "Fatal to touch wires". The cost of each tower in 1910 was $26.
The packaged pylons were delivered to the site by four or six horse teams hauling a "catamaran", a long low timber wagon with two sets of wheels, and poles with a cradle in between to carry load.
The current was carried by three solid copper wires each about 10mm thick on large brown glazed insulators.
A telephone line was installed below the power lines for communicating between Horahora and the mines and twelve telephone huts were built at intervals along the power lines for quick communications when trouble arose, usually through insulator failure or bad weather.
The line was in use for power transmission well after the flooding of the Horahora plant and it was finally closed down and dismantled about 1970. P17
Power Pylon Foundations (Cabbage Tree Flat)
The pylon footings to be seen here are just above the ditch and culvert above the top walkway bridge.
Examples of pylons remain. The Waihi Arts Centre and Museum have one, that Owen Morgan said came from the tennis courts area, Victoria Battery Tramway Society have one (was being used by Omokoroa Volunteer Fire Brigade to dry their hoses), Tower Museum Society (tower at Stanley Landing), and Department of Conservation in Te Aroha have one they are restoring. The Department is intending to interpret the site of one of the mountain towers off the Waitawheta Tramline track, and possibly recreate one on a nearby site.
Finlay Park Camp at Lake Karapiro has an excellent diorama of the Horahora Power Station.
Waihi Museum has photos of some of the mountain pylons in situ, and also blueprints of the lowland and mountain towers (pylons).
Power Pylon Foundations (Pylon Paddock)
Only footings protruding from the ground, and a cross arm remain.
Power Pylon at end Baker Street
This pylon is lying beside the walkway at the end of Baker Street. It seems likely that this is not where it stood, but simply where it was discarded. It may have stood near the present turning area of Baker Street. No footings have been found.
Waihi District Walkways Inc. PO Box 241 Waihi New Zealand
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