Construction of the Rail Bridge, over Thomson River on the Moe to Walhalla Railway was completed late in 1909 and the line was eventually opened through to Walhalla by March 1910. The Moe to Walhalla railway was one of four experimental routes constructed early this century. The lines were intended to develop isolated districts where conventional broad lines incurred prohibitive construction costs. In particular the Moe to Walhalla Railway was constructed to support the gold boom in the area, but ironically this had nearly ceased by the time the railway was built. The necessity to cross the Thomson River some five kilometres south west from Walhalla required the largest single structure on the railway. The Victorian Railways designed a substantial bridge which contained four central concrete piers built into the river bed, the construction of which required temporary diversion of the river. The line was closed in 1954 and re-opened in 1994, to serve as a tourist railway.
The Rail Bridge, over Thomson River is a girder bridge almost 100 metres long and little more than two metres wide. It is comprised of four concrete piers supporting the river spans, as well as five timber trestle piers and two timber abutment piers supporting the approach spans. The approach spans are wrought iron bridge beams which had previously been used in the North Eastern Railway Line. The first and third main river spans are mild steel girders, new at the time of construction. The second river span is a mild steel lattice girder which had previously been used in a bridge at Tocumwal. The bridge remains largely intact and carries a timber deck and single, narrow-gauge rail track over the Thomson River Valley, serving the tourist railway from Thomson to Stringer's Creek Gorge.
How is it significant?
The Rail Bridge, over Thomson River, Walhalla is of historical, social and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Rail Bridge, over Thomson River, Walhalla is of historical and social importance for its role in connecting the gold mining town of Walhalla with Moe and Melbourne after Walhalla had been isolated by distance and topography for most of its productive years. It also serves as a reminder of the expense incurred to build a railway in anticipation of the successes from the gold mining area, which never eventuated. The line's re-opening in 1994 as a tourist railway is of social importance in demonstrating the interest historic railways generate in the community.
The Rail Bridge, over Thomson River is of architectural importance as the largest structure built on the narrow gauge lines and is representative of railway engineering practice of the early twentieth century. It serves as a reminder of the difficult engineering achievements involved in spanning the wide crossing over the Thomson River at an isolated location. The bridge is important as a significant section of the Moe to Walhalla line which, clinging to sheer slopes and spanning thirteen bridges beyond Erica, attracted international attention as a minor masterpiece of innovative engineering. The bridge is of architectural importance for its unusual construction type, using a combination of structural materials including recycled mild steel girders and a lattice girder as well as concrete piers, timber trestle piers and timber abutment piers.