Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Onslow: From Dismal Swamp to Vice-Regal Lake

Walking around the fishing huts area of Lake Onslow on a Saturday evening, after an eventful drive over the Dunstan Trail and then south from the Upper Taieri area, I was able to have a good look at something I'd spied on the way into that night's campsite.  An old "flying fox" traverses the water of the lake not far from the dam.  It wasn't difficult to see its purpose - at the end opposite where I sat I could make out an old quarry.  Obviously, the "flying fox" transported rock from the quarry for the building of the dam.

It must have been a serious project, I thought - of course, local rock was the logical material to use in dam-building as it was on site.  But that still meant the carrying of cement up the hills from the Clutha river to the dam site.  All I knew, sitting on a schist outcrop and looking at the wire and quarry, was that the lake supplies water these days for the power station to be seen where the Teviot River meets the Clutha.

Here is what more I found of the story of the lake and the dam and how they came to be.

Watson Shennan, by then a retired farmer, described in 1911 the first European exploration of the area inland from the Maungatuas that edge the Taieri Plain.

I found the country between the Tokomairiro plain and the Waitahuna River occupied by the late Mr James Smith and Mr John Cargill, but beyond that it was no man's land. After crossing the Waitahuna River, I found some very good sheep country; but much of it was very scrubby. Going on over the ridges there was some nice open country between the branches of Tuapeka River, and I pitched camp one night in the gully afterwards called Gabriel's Gully, little thinking of the wealth that was buried only a few feet under the ground. Had I suspected the presence of gold, I might have given up searching for sheep country. Later I found the country too rough to get any nearer the Molyneux River, so kept pretty well up the ridges on the open country, until the Beaumont Station was reached. After crossing that stream the country was still scrubby and difficult to travel over, and there was much the same description of land between the Beaumont and the Teviot River. Most of the country had a beautiful cover of good grasses. After crossing the Teviot River, the country got much more open, and the cover of grass not so good. Towards the Molyneux River the country still continued scrubby, and therefore I did not make any attempt to get to the bank of the river, so continued on the higher ground to the top of the Knobby ridges. These ridges are well named, as they are closely covered with rocks. At this stage I had travelled all over the country now known as Waitahuna, Tuapeka, Beaumont, Ormaglade, Teviot, Long Valley and Knobby Ranges. From the top of the Knobbys I had a splendid view of the Manuherikia valley, presenting a most beautiful landscape —quite a change from the country previously traversed. I exclaimed to my brother: "Here is the country we are looking for; a land well grassed and watered — a very land of promise. Here we will pitch our tent, and here we will stay; and make our home for good." Things do not often turn out as expected, nor can the future be looked into. That night I camped on the banks of the Manuherikia River. It was an ideal camping place, with plenty of green grass for the horses, scrub for fuel, and a river of the purest water to drink. During my stay at that camp I explored the surrounding country. Went over to the banks of the Molyneux River, and as far up as where Clyde now stands. Found the country all open, well grassed and watered, sufficient scrub for fuel for many years, but no bush or timber. I found game very numerous — all kinds of native duck, quail, pukaki, wild pigs, wild dogs, and also a wild white horse. I can hardly class dogs and horses in a game list; still I can say that the horse was "game." Rats and mice swarmed, so the wild dogs found abundance of  food, and they often caught a duck asleep at night. Afterwards they found mutton was more to their liking. After leaving this camp I rode up the valley as far as Blackstone Hill; then went over the Ruggedy ridges into Ida Valley, and found the country all well grassed and watered, and suitable for sheep. Then I wanted to see the country lying to the east of the Rough Ridge, so went over the top of this ridge — it may be called a mountain, as some of the highest points are over 4000 ft. From the Rough Ridge there was a good view of the Maniototo plain. Did not go down into the plain, but could see that it was very extensive. By this time I had been out in an unexplored country for a fortnight, and the supply of provisions was running out, so turned the horses towards where I started from. I kept on the high country for a long distance, but on the high ground it was difficult to find good camping places, so I tried the lower flats. But that was a mistake, for swampy ground was met with and was very unpleasant for camping. It was a most uncomfortable situation — not a stick to boil the billy and nothing but big snow tussocks for the horses to eat. Choosing the largest snow tussock, my companion and I crawled under, finding this not quite equal to a feather bed. Disgusted with the place, we called it "Dismal Swamp," a name it still retains to this day. I may mention that my party were the first white men that had visited the large tract of country now described. No hill, valley or river had a name except the Manuherikia River. The Manuherikia River was shown on the Maori map, or drawn from the description of the country given by the Maoris. The natives used to go inland for the purpose of catching eels and wild pigs, saw many traces of their visits to the interior of the country. The Maoris have since given up their excursions to the interior, as it was not necessary to go inland to procure food. To continue the return journey from Dismal Swamp, we climbed the Lammerlaw mountain, and had a very extensive view of the country, and arrived back to Tokomairiro after a journey of three weeks.   -Mount Ida Chronicle, 28/7/1911.

An early description of the area and its weather.

This is a very important section of the Taieri District, and extends over a very large area; but from its almost inaccessible position, is not generally known. The country is a very wild and inhospitable one, and from its great altitude is frequently visited even in the midst of summer with very severe snow storms. I should think that during the months of June, July, August, and September, it would scarcely be habitable. It is distant about thirty miles from Hamilton's by way of the Black Ball Hotel, at the Linburn Valley; twenty-five miles north-west from Captain Baldwin's station, and about thirty east-south-east from the Dunstan. The only approachable road for drays is by following along the top of the Rough Ridge from Drunken Woman's Creek, or keeping up towards the head of the Linburn from the crossing place on the Dunedin road; (now known as the Old Dunstan Trail) but the former is by far the best route. Some bullock sleighs have occasionally crossed the Nobby Ranges from the Teviot Junction, but with very light loads. Travelling is very difficult on account of the immense number of swamps and peat bogs which everywhere abound, both on the tops of the highest hills and in the depths of the steep valleys which intersect them. There are no roads or tracks whatever except one from the Drunken Woman's Creek and that from the Linburn both leading on to the Dunedin road, within some three miles of each other, otherwise the traveller has to find his way about in the best manner possible. From the summit of the hills a very fine view of the surrounding country is obtained, the Lammermoor, Carrick, and Remarkable Ranges looking so close on a clear day, especially the two former, that you would almost imagine a stone could easily be thrown at them. But unfortunately fine days are generally few and far between, and instead of a pleasant uninterrupted view of the bold outline of the snow-capped mountains in the distance, there is little else but a dense fog and a driving sleet which always accompany a storm on the great ranges, and should you unfortunately be suddenly overtaken, by no means an unfrequent occurrence, you must make up your mind for the night and seek shelter under some friendly rock. A number of the inhabitants in their peregrinations to and from the outlying gullies have repeatedly been compelled reluctantly to absent themselves from their usual place of residence, and patiently wait for hours for a change in the weather.
It was here that the forty-five men were, snowed in during the great storm in August last, the intelligence of which created such a painful sensation in Dunedin, and had it not been for the daring and intrepidity of Mr Payne, the proprietor of the Black Ball Hotel and Store, as well as that of a trooper, the whole of the unfortunate people might have perished. It appears they were the earliest of the goldseekers on the banks of the Serpentine, and had but recently arrived from the neighborhood of the Molyneux, not overburdened with funds, having spent many months shepherding by that river, consequently they were ill-found both in raiment and provisions. At that time the exact position of the diggings was scarcely known, and the accounts, which were rather vaguely given by the parties when they made their weekly excursions to the Black Ball, distance ten miles, to sell gold and purchase provisions, were anything but satisfactory. Missing his customers, Mr Payne had great fears for their safety, but could do nothing, not being sure precisely where to find them; nevertheless he was upon the point of searching the ranges when three men came to the store much frost-bitten in the hands and feet, and reported their escape from the gully by digging through the snow, and that those they left behind were without provisions. Accompanied by the trooper, Mr Payne started with a packhorse loaded with necessaries suitable for the occasion, and had the good fortune to relieve the whole party. The frost-bitten men were conveyed to the Dunstan Hospital, where one of them suffered amputation of a great portion of the foot. The then workings were in a sort of basin on almost the highest part of the Rough Ridge, and the snow drifted in overwhelming quantities, completely levelling every little hollow and gully, and covering up the tents to a depth of ten feet at least. Such was the height of the snow wall above the ridge pole of those that were not abandoned, and which were only rendered habitable by the inmates continually shovelling the drift from around their frail habitation as it was driven in by the wind. It is now a little over twelve months since the first ground was opened in this quarter. The prospectors, as I said before, were men from the Molyneux, and who, after fruitlessly shepherding their subaqueous claims in that river, pushed boldly out into the ranges for a more suitable and profitable locality, free from the influence of vexatious and disastrous floods. The earliest portion of the workings were in what is now called Golden Gully; it takes its rise at the very extreme summit of the range, and runs a tortuous course of nearly one mile and a half, and has been worked the entire distance; there are also two other gullies, but nameless. The ground, for some distance along the edge of the Serpentine Creek, which here takes its rise, is very much torn up and to appearances worked to great profit. The sinking is very shallow, not more than from two to four feet, and the gold almost invariably lies close on the bottom, or bedrock. A race is being cut from a spring in the range, for the purpose of conducting water to sluice some ground about the middle of Golden Gully. Its length will be about three miles, two of which are already completed; the proprietors of this race are building themselves a substantial hut, besides laying in a stock of provisions, having determined upon standing out the fierce storms of the winter months.
On a small piece of level ground or nearly so, for there does not exist what is generally understood as level ground in this quarter, is situated the township, consisting of some four or five stores, two butcher's shops, and the same amount of bakeries, as well as the various etceteras peculiar to a gold field. About four miles south west from this is another workings, consisting of some three or four gullies, all comprised under the head of "German Jack;" they were rushed about a month previous to Christmas last, and contained a population of about one hundred and fifty; but that number has since considerably diminished, the people paying for other and more promising places. This rush did not prove a very remunerative one, and German Jack, who claimed to be the discoverer, seeking honor where honor was not due, was in his cups gifted with great volubility of language, and termed among miners what is generally known as a "great blower." He one day got rewarded for his pains by those who did not consider Jack's glowing accounts of his discovery fully borne out, with a ducking in the creek. Starting again from the township, and going about three miles south, is Crinoline Gully, opened some six weeks ago; there have been about 200 claims worked, the majority of which paid good wages; but the ground being all very shallow, it is principally all worked out and abandoned, the inhabitants having shifted to the new rush, which is about three miles further on in the same direction, and near the Taieri Plain. It was discovered about a fortnight ago, and is in a very steep gully, down the centre of which runs a smart current of water whose precipitous banks teem with the liquid element in the shape of numerous cascades which come tumbling and splashing over the rocks in all manner of fantastic forms and shapes. There are three stores in a sort of a ledge, which is the only place accessible by pack horses. The workings are in the very bed of the stream, which has been turned for a distance of nearly two miles by cutting a fresh channel alongside the one allotted to it by nature. The gold obtained is very coarse and nuggetty, much more so than any yet found in the neighborhood of the Serpentine, and lies in the crevices of the rock, and for the most part can be washed out with a tin dish. Many of the claims have paid extremely well for the time occupied in working them, which in many cases has not exceeded a week, on account of the ground being so shallow. The rocks in this quarter are all mica schists, and those exposed to the action of the atmosphere are very much eroded, being worn into the most fantastic and grotesque shapes imaginable. Beneath the alluvial deposits the upper portion is very much decomposed; is as soft as pipeclay, and easily removed with the shovel. In the deep gully there is an admixture of clay-slate, of a very deep blue color, but whether the presence of the latter rock accounts for the coarseness of the gold, is a question for geologists to determine; there is one thing certain, that in all the other places where the rocks are entirely schist the gold is fine, while here where there is slate the very reverse is the case. There are also a number of other diggings within a radius of about twenty miles. On the Lammermoor Ranges there is the Greek's rush, where a goodly number of people are now working; besides several other gullies in their deep recesses are each giving profitable employment to a few parties. At the Deep Stream, near the Halfway House on the Dunedin and Dunstan road, a few parties have also been working for some time time past. Returning again to the Rough Ridge, there is the Drunken Woman's and Deep Creeks, as well as Maori Gully. All these places have been opened for some time, the latter especially, gold having been found there previous to the discovery of the Dunstan. Further again, as far as Marion's station, there is the Puketoi Gully (puketoi, the name of a long grass; the seed stems of which grow to a gigantic size, and terminate in a feather like appearance), where there are three parties of Germans engaged sluicing, and who have been so doing for sometime; but I could not make out the amount of their gains, their answer being "just enough gold to buy tucker with ;" which estimate, considering the quantity of work done, I should think somewhat below the mark. All the country between the Serpentine along the banks of the Taieri, is doubtless one continuous gold field, and will, I firmly believe, support a large but scattered population for a long period to come.
After spending three days in this delightful locality, I availed myself of a clear morning and started across the ranges, as near as possible in a straight line northwest by west, for the Dunstan. After travelling about three miles, and descending a very steep range, I came upon that pleasant sounding place called the "Dismal Swamp," but I could not see that its appearance was more objectionable or dismal than other parts of the Serpentine Valley I had previously travelled over, but rather an improvement. At the same time it was not a place I should choose for a residence. This swamp must be from ten to twelve miles in length, and takes its rise in a steep gully running down the Rough Ridge, and keeps a course nearly due north and south. It is from half a mile to four miles in width, and in places I have no doubt would swallow up a man. I was very lucky in crossing, hitting at once upon a place where it was at its least breadth, and moderately approaching to something in the shape of terra firma, although at the same time my horse would not follow his leader without force stronger than than of the power of argument. Horses are very sagacious, and have a pretty correct idea of the density or bearing-up powers of swamps, and appear to know quite as well as their rider whether it is safe to cross or not; so that you are not likely to meet with any mishap without it being your own fault. High up a range close by is a quartz reef, where some very good specimens were obtained, but no amount of work has been done, the claim being temporally abandoned, or rather registered in the Warden's office, till such time as machinery can be procured to crush the stone, without which the reef is valueless. Pursuing my journey again, I struck the road from the Dunstan to the Teviot on a spur of the Nobby Ranges, just before dark, about two miles from the Manuherikia township, the snow cairns being a very good guide when the road was not discernible. I should calculate the distance, from where I started in the morning, to the Manuherikia, 33 about twenty five miles, but a most execrable country to travel over; although I pushed a-head with all possible speed, not stopping one minute for rest, it occupied me nearly eight hours, sufficient time to have travelled double that distance on a good road, considering which circumstance, I cannot recommend my route as a very practicable one, and advice people to take the beaten track, although it is nearly twice as far.  -Otago Daily Times, 18/4/1864.

The Swamp is now, of course, under the waters of the lake but the summer evening light on the hills has been, for as long as humans have occupied this Island, anything but "Dismal."

On the evening of Thursday, 12th inst., Mr. George Ireland, one of the candidates for the representation of Mount Benger, prelected in Macleod's Hotel, Ettrick, to a numerous audience. Mr. Kerr, a cockatoo miner, occupied the chair. Mr. Ireland is generally respected throughout the district for integrity and well intentioned zeal. The candidate is evidently an enthusiast on education matters, and gave them an undue pre-eminence, dismissing the land question with a few well worn platitudes, and only suggested a rather visionary scheme of damming the Dismal Swamp as a direct local advantage. After he concluded his address, Mr. Mackay rose to make some explanations in regard to the report of the Teviot meeting published in the "Tuapeka Times." This he characterised as grossly improper and untrue. He had never promised his support to Mr. Beighton, nor in any way promoted that gentleman's candidature.  -Tuapeka Times, 19/6/1873.

In Mining Matters there is very little to report. Nearly all the claims are in work. Some, however, are at a standstill, owing to the scarcity of water. Forbes and Co. have the timber on the ground for the fluming at the head of their race, and no doubt will push on the work with their wonted energy. This is another party that will suffer when water is short in the Teviot, having the last right, and it is to be hoped, now that the survey has been made for the reservoir at the Dismal Swamp, that the Government will see fit to carry out the work before next summer, and thus prevent a number of men from being thrown out of employment at this season of the year.   -Tuapeka Times, 5/2/1876.

Tuapeka County Council
H. J. Waight wrote at some length, on behalf of the Mount Benger Progress Committee, making application for the county engineer's services for the purpose of inspecting and laying off a site for a reservoir at the head of the Teviot River. — Cr Smith moved, and it was carried — '' That the request be complied with."  Otago Witness, 20/2/1866.

To the proposal made in our leading columns to place some of the unemployed on the goldfields during the winter months, the Tapanui Courier. says: - "Recently in Tapanui Mr Pyke pointed out to us one of the most necessary works in the goldfields, and that is the erection of a retaining wall at the head of the Teviot river. This work, which would only cost about £2000, would create an enormous reservoir at what is known as the Dismal swamp; at the foot of Lammerlaw ranges. By erecting an inexpensive retaining wall of stone or concrete an area of some 30 acres of water could be conserved at such an altitude that it would command thousands of acres of riverbank of the Clutha valley alone, and could further be taken to the Manuherikia valley and many other rich gold diggings if required. The natural basin of the Dismal swamp comprises one of the finest natural reservoirs in the colony; and, situated as it is in the centre of a highly auriferous country, the only wonder is that it has not been utilised before.  The work now mentioned is one well adapted for the unemployed, as, if properly engineered, it can be built in sections so that as years roll on the supply of water can be increased to an unlimited extent by simply raising the height of the retaining wall. We may here mention that it has taken the Teviot sluicers 20 years to shift a few acres of land with the water at their command and their profits have been considerable; and the water scheme we now mention would command hundreds of acres of auriferous land equally as rich as the Teviot diggings. Independent of the known area of sluicing splendid sluicing land that the Dismal Swamp water would command, there is every probability that the race cutting from the Lammerlaw to the Clutha valley would open up new goldfields, as the country through which the water races would pass is known to be auriferous, although never systematically prospected.  -Otago Daily Times, 6/5/1886.

There is still talk about the construction of a big dam at the Dismal Swamp, which would give the command of a large body of water. It is not certain whether anything real will be done. Such a dry season as the past summer does not often occur, and parties are averse to doing anything big till they are, so to speak, forced into it. By the way, a nice hut at the Swamp was burnt down the other day, probably through someone throwing down a lighted match. It belonged to the Ormaglade Estate, and is said to have been worth about £100.  -Otago Daily Times, 14/5/1886.

The topic of conversation during the past few days has been Mr Vincent Pyke's applications for a 1500-acre dam at Dismal Swamp and fifty heads of water from the Teviot River. As you are aware, the proposed floating of the Roxburgh East mines has fallen through, the number of shares taken up falling a long way short of the mark. We were led to believe that the new company was an accomplished fact. The position now is simply this: the owners of the mines, with two exceptions, have definitely drawn out of the undertaking, and have resumed work on the old principle. Mr Pyke applies for a great water monopoly, and has some idea, it appears, with the two claims which he still retains, of bringing the other claims to his terms. His application, therefore, the miners have determined to oppose to the last ditch.
One of the outcomes of Wednesday's proceedings is that the miners, or the great majority of them, have not that confidence in Warden Hickson which a gentleman holding his position should enjoy. A meeting of the Miners' Association is called for this evening to consider the position in regard to the Warden, and I understand that it will be proposed that the Minister of Justice be asked to appoint some other Warden to hear the application re Dismal Swamp. Feeling on the matter runs very high among the miners, and it is suggested that the services of Sir Robert Stout be retained to oppose the application. We had a gunpowder accident here on Friday, by which three boys were more or less injured. They got possession of some of the explosive material, which one thoughtlessly ignited, and somewhat unpleasant consequences followed. One of the three, J. Young, had his face and head badly burnt and was otherwise injured about the body, and it is likely that his sight will be affected. J. Fetherstone's injuries were not so serious, but they are nevertheless painful; and the youngest boy, T. Fetherstone, is also wounded about the face. This should be a lesson to parents who are not as particular as they ought to be in leaving explosives about.   -Tuapeka Times, 3/10/1888.

We're such a respectable community up here that really scarcely anything ever occurs worth mentioning. Life goes on at a steady pace from January to December, and the only excitement we get is on Court-day and when the coach comes in. 
Talking of Court-day: It was a long innings last time, the Warden being not out. He will be at the wickets again in about a fortnight, and I hear a Dunedin bowler will be engaged. I shall be curious to know the result. Mr Vincent Pyke, another well-known cricketer, made a good stand, and defended his stumps very well, Mr Mouat bowling. The local men made small scores, but may not improbably surprise the other side next day. 
I presume, Mr Editor, you quite understand the meaning of this little parable. Mr Vincent Pyke didn't succeed in floating a (was-to-be) famous company, and he does intend to float another. To that end, a large portion of the east side of the river has been pegged out, and a huge dam has been built at the Dismal Swamp for the storage of water. His party are confident of success, but there is a strong local feeling against him. His application last Court sitting met with strong opposition, and I fancy Roxburgh will not be the only place where it will be heard. But we shall see.
Fire and water! I've been taking you through cold water for a page or two, but we can boast our news by fire as well. Three young adventurers, one afternoon lately, put some gunpowder into a convenient tin, and applied a match. All went off very satisfactory — especially the gunpowder, and including the boys. They forgot to remove themselves before putting the match; but, on the whole, there wasn't much harm done. Some boys are hard — very hard — to kill.  -Tuapeka Times, 13/10/1888.

The Warden is certain to have a busy time of it on Wednesday, when Mr Pyke's application for a 1500-acre claim at Dismal Swamp comes on, as well as the application of "The Teviot and Clutha Goldmining Company" (V.P., chairman of directors) for a 300-acre claim in block 1., Roxburgh East. The Miners' Association are opposing the latter application, on the ground that the area is too large. The Association thinks 10 acres of new ground is a sufficient area for any company to hold. Personally, I think 10 acres would be too small; twice ten would be nearer the mark. Some inducements must be held out to companies, otherwise it will be a difficult matter to raise sufficient capital to carry on operations systematically, excepting the ground is fabulously rich. Re Mr Pyke's application for a dam at Dismal Swamp, I think the miners are thoroughly justified — those especially who lift water from the Swamp — in doing their utmost to oppose this application. It would be a monstrous shame to allow a single company to have a monopoly of such a valuable water-right; and in the interests of those at present carrying on mining operations at Roxburgh East, as well as any companies that may be formed in the future, it is only right and proper that every effort should be made to oppose Mr Pyke's application. There is a general feeling here that a dam should be constructed at Dismal Swamp out of public money, provided by the Government. The expense would not be great, and the advantages it would confer to the mining community could not possibly be overestimated.
The claimowners at Roxburgh East who are not throwing in their lot with Mr Pyke, and who are opposing his application for the 1500-acre dam at Dismal Swamp, have retained Mr Denniston to look after their interests at the sitting of the Warden's Court on Wednesday. V.P. will find in Mr Denniston, who ranks as Sir Robert Stout's equal as a lawyer, a foeman worthy of his steel, and I'm convinced that V.P. will not come off as triumphantly as he did last Court day. Mr Denniston reached here to-night, so that he'll have plenty of time between this and Wednesday to get the case — i.e., the objections — well worked up.
The correspondence which has appeared in the Tuapeka Times lately bearing upon Mr Pyke's non-success in floating the Roxburgh East claims has been read here with more than ordinary interest. I, along with many others, am very sorry that Mr Pyke did not give his version of the affair; for I'm sure it would be very interesting — not to say entertaining. V.P. must have been struck in a vital part by "One Who Knows," otherwise he would have met him fairly in your columns. It is all very well to say that "anonymous letters are usually the resort of rascals — not to use a harsher term;" but the fact of these anonymous letters, evidently penned by men who are thoroughly conversant with all the negotiations from start to finish, causing so much pain and annoyance, gives proof that there's more under the surface than a casual observer is led to think. The mighty warrior, V.P., the hero of a thousand fights — he who crushed in a newspaper war the great Sir Robert Stout, the ex-Democratic apostle — afraid of an anonymous correspondent — bah! the idea — the very thought of it, in truth — is preposterous! Wade in old man; don't be frightened of a newspaper scribbler, even though he does strike hard — or, I'll lose all conceit of you. Up here we do enjoy a real, good stand-up fight.
The local paper has a very trenchant editorial in its last issue dealing with the Dismal Swamp dam-site and the special claim of 300-acres at Roxburgh East. Your contemporary says "the application for the reservoir-site has not yet been decided by the Warden, and the applications for special claims have not yet come before the Warden." This is a startling bit of news; but in the sentence which follows I can detect the slightest tinge of irony. "And (says the editor) it ain't our duty to advise the Warden how to act?" I wonder if the Warden ever consulted the editor before giving his decision in any important case, and especially upon the advisableness or otherwise of granting the applications now before the Court! " Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."  -Tuapeka Times, 24/10/1888.

[From Our Own Correspondent.]
The great sensation of the week has been the Roxburgh mining dispute. Mr Pyke, with a number of others, is applying for a special claim of some 300 acres (reduced on survey to 108 acres) on the mining reserve, Roxburgh East; also, for permission to construct a dam at Dismal Swamp banking up the Teviot Creek, and the privilege of taking fifty heads of water therefrom. The great body of the miners in the district object to the applications, on the ground of monopoly, and the opposition has taken a bitter and determined turn. This feeling was imparted to it by the action of the Warden (Mr Hickson), when the application first came before his Court, the miners considering that he displayed bias in favor of Mr Pyke and against those who were opposing him. The Warden's attitude throughout appeared to indicate that the applications would be granted; and, indeed, some of the remarks let fall from the Bench were by no means consistent with magisterial dignity. The case was adjourned for a month, and the miners in the meantime secured Mr Denniston to watch their interests when the applications were next called. The Court had not long been sitting on Wednesday when Mr Hickson gave all present to understand that Mr Denniston, notwithstanding his great reputation, was not going to have it all his own way. He seemed to have made up his mind, as Mr Denniston had been brought there to overawe him, to show the audience that, after all, Mr Denniston was in his eyes much the same as any other man. In giving effect, however, to this most plausible resolution, Mr Hickson somewhat overreached the mark; and the row which resulted in his leaving the Bench abruptly, and without formally adjourning the Court, was, undoubtedly, of his own brewing. I believe Mr Denniston was courtesy itself; but it is the misfortune of country magistrates like Mr Hickson that they seldom meet with any restraint in their Courts, where they sit in judgement like miniature Czars, and naturally become impatient and lose their heads on the slightest show of opposition to their will. There was another lively passage between the Bench and the Bar on the second day (Thursday), and beyond doubt Mr Hickson's attitude towards Mr Denniston was impertinent in the extreme. Fortunately, the latter did not lose his temper, so the matter passed off better than was expected. As the case is at present sub judice, I must refrain from offering any minute comment; but, having thoroughly inquired into the affair, I consider Mr Pyke fully entitled to what he asks for under certain restricting conditions. It is a case of dog-in-the manger with the principal objectors, who themselves had pegged out and were applying for the very same privileges they are now denouncing as a monopoly, but had to abandon them because they could not float a company to turn them to account.  -Evening Star, 30/10/1888.

Mining News
We learn that at the sitting of the Warden’s Court on Wednesday last at Roxburgh. Mr V. Pyke was granted his dam at Dismal Swamp ; further, that the applications by same for a water-race of 50 heads out of Teviot Creek, and a special claim of 90 acres at Roxburgh East, were granted.  -Dunstan Times, 23/11/1888.

Mr Pyke then said: I am here to-day so perform a very important function. I am here to take possession of one of the richest and most valuable gravel claims in all New Zealand — probably in all the world on behalf of the Roxburgh Amalgamated Mining and Sluicing Company. You have  heard from Mr Rawlins, the manager of the Island Block Company and from Mr Peters, who has been engaged in mining enterprise for 17 years, what their deliberate opinion is of the value of the ground. We feel assured that my greatgrandchildren will thank me for securing an interest in it. As to the beneficial effect of amalgamating sush claims there is evidence below our feet. The claimholders have put in their water power in one direction. Look at the result in the immense gap they have already made in the terrace. What will it be when the 50 additional heads are brought in.from Dismal Swamp? By the way I propose to re-christen that same swamp. We have gone on very slow in forming the company, and I wish to name it Lake Onslow, an appropriate term and in honour of our new Governer. As you know, this swamp, which is our reservoir, is situated 2800 ft above sea level. Well, in consequence of the senseless, malicious, and purposeless opposition shown to our getting a  grant of the Dismal Swamp as a dam we were prevented from undertaking the work of erecting the dam bank until next summer.. The region is snow-clad and ice-bound just now. That is how our opponents, by the perverse action, have set back the development of the mining industries of the district. Then we have had two other troubles to contend with. In the first place no alluvial or "gravel claim" has heretofore been placed on the market - it is a new thing to Dunedin folk. They have put their money in quartz; and in nine cases out of ten they lose it. The reason is as easily demonstrated as a mathematical problem. Quartz may be rich on the surface, but what sensible man would buy a house if he were presented with a brick as a sample?  The quartz may "peter out "within a foot; there is no certainty of its continuance. But in the case of' a gravel claim there is no uncertainty. You can tell almost exactly how much gold there is in every cubic yard of wash, with always the chances of rich underground patches. Why, where we stand now from above yonder bend an old and wide river bed once existed, and we are even now just tapping it in our frontage claims. Numerous deposits of the precious metal are lying underneath our feet — where we now stand — only awaiting the application of capital to unearth it. But it is too near Dunedin for the Dunedin people to take any interest in it. They send away their thousands to bolster up West Coast speculations, because "distance lends enchantment to the view " but they have no sense — or, as the Chinaman would say, the "savee" — to invest their money within their own border to develop the mines that are within Otago. By and bye, when English capitalists have absorbed all our best alluvial gold mines, the short-sighted people of Dunedin will discover that the most permanent and payable gold properties in the world have passed out of their hands through their own indolence and apathy. Then look at our magnificent water  privileges. My presence and my mission here to-day signalises the triumph of enterprise over the old "dot-and-carry-one" system cherished, by fossils of the old mining class. The shareholders of the company now stand possessed of one of the finest mining properties in New Zealand — the water privileges alone of which mean a fortune of' incalculable value. Think of a dam three and a-half miles long, and in the centre one mile wide, with a big river running through it! Gentlemen, it is needless to say more; I shall now propose "Success and prosperity to the Roxburgh Amalgamated Mining Company:" — (Cheers).  -Otago Witness, 20/6/1889.

The annual meeting of the shareholders of the above company was held in Dunedin on Wednesday; Mr Vincent Pyke being in the chair, and a large number of shareholders present. 
The annual report stated that the directors had engaged the services of Messrs Charles C. Rawlins and R. Proust as superintending engineers of the works. Satisfactory arrangements had been made for carrying the head race (including fluming and pipes) through freehold property, paying to Messrs Cargill and Anderson £5 per annum and to Mr Joseph Haughton a lump sum of  £25 for these privileges in both cases for a term of fifteen years, that being the duration of the company's water license. As shown by the engineer's report the work was being vigorously pushed on. The amount expended on the works up to date had been about £2,700, and it was now estimated that £4,800 would be required for their completion, bringing up the total cost to L 7,500.
The balance-sheet showed that the bank overdraft amounted to £22 17s 8d. A sum of £2678 6s 1d had been paid for construction of works and £849 1s 6d in preliminary expenses. There was a balance of a few shillings in hand. 
Mr C. C. Rawlins, one of the superintending engineers of the company, read a report with regard to the progress of the works since the commencement of the year. The report stated that a dam wall at Lake Onslow was now finished to a height of 15ft, leaving the wall of sufficient strength to proceed with the work of completion to a height of 10ft or 12ft more. The width of the base was 25ft, and there were two outlet pipes, each 2ft in diameter, through which the water was at present flowing. The drainage area of the Dismal Swamp was about 72 miles, and the average rainfall about 30in per annum; and, allowing for leakage and evaporation, the quantity of rain falling into Lake Onslow would be equal to nearly 5000 million cubic feet. To this might be added the water shed between the dam and the point where it was drawn off, which would make the rain falling into the lake equal to over 7000 cubic feet; while the demand on the supply would be only about 4147 million cubic feet. The flume, which would be 400 chains long when finished, was being built of kauri pine, and about 60 chains had already been completed. The pipe line would be 3680 ft in length, and at the foot of the hill the line would divide into two pipes, one of 18in and one of 15in. The former would run direct to the three large elevators, and the latter would supply the power to drive the electric light, and also be used at the nozzles. The pipe contract was in the hands of Mr Sparrow, who was pushing it on all he could. When at full work the three elevators would put through about 4000 tons of material a day. The expenses would be about £12 a day, and the return at lgr only  would be £30, if the material was the same as the present face indicated. 
In moving the adoption of the report, the Chairman said that by the old process of ground sluicing the average yield obtained by the tributers was 3 1/2gr to the ton; so that, assuming the engineer's estimate to be correct, the gross yield, if only equal to that obtained by the tributers would show a total of £105 per working day, or deducting expenses, £90 per day. The claim comprises 108 acres, and the water privileges were absolutely unequalled in New Zealand, for they had a reservoir about three and a half miles in length, and in some parts over two miles in width, with a permanent stream larger than the Water of Leith running through it, whilst rights had been purchased and secured for 75 Government heads of water.
It was decided that the remuneration of the directors be one guinea per meeting; not to exceed 12 guineas per annum, the motion to apply to last year.  -Tuapeka Times, 10/5/1890.

The largest Artificial Lake in the World.
In the March number of the English 'Illustrated Magazine' Mr Grant Allen tells the story of "A Submerged Village" at Llanwddyn (pronounced "Flanwooden"), where a reservoir has been constructed for supplying Liverpool with water. He says: "The visitor who goes up to Vyrnwy Lake to-day in dear sunny weather sees before his eyes the huge bank of stone that hems in and restrains the enormous mass of water, five miles long by half a mile broad, the largest artificial mere, I suppose, now anywhere existing behind a masonry embankment." If this is all, New Zealand can now boast of the largest artificial lake in the world; for behind the masonry embankment at Lake Onslow, the property of the Roxburgh Mining Company, there is enclosed an area of four miles long by two miles and a-half in width — nearly, if not quite, four times the area of the Welsh reservoir. New Zealand, therefore, takes the cake.  -Evening Star, 14/5/1890.

The monthly meeting of the Council of the Acclimatisation Society was held at the Government Buildings yesterday, when there were present — Messrs J. P. Maitland (chairman), A. C. Begg, R. Chisholm, D. Stronach, J. Edgar, J. Wilkie, W. Carlton, T. Brown, P. C. Neill, C. Smith, G. P. Clifford, D. Russell, G. M. Thomson, and Manager Deans. 
PROPOSED FISHING AND CANNING WORKS AT LAKE ONSLOW. The following letter was received from Mr Vincent Pyke: —
Some of the shareholders in the Roxburgh Mining Company have combined with me to make an application for trout ova to stock the artificial lake (Lake Onslow) at the Dismal Swamp, with the view of ultimately establishing fishing and tinning works. I may say that although there are trout in the Teviot river at a lower level than the lake (which is 2300 ft above sea level), they never ascend because of the rapids; but there is nothing to prevent fish in the lake coming down into the river, so that, it will form a permanent breeding ground, or, rather, water. One of the applicants with myself is Mr Robert Cockburn, one of the society's rangers. If you will acquaint me with the time and place of your next meeting I will do myself the pleasure of attending to give further explanations that may be desired.
The Chairman stated that Mr Pyke had called on him several times in connection with the matter, which he took an extraordinary interest in. He (the chairman) did not fancy that the scheme to can fish would come to anything. However, so far as the society was concerned, the letter was merely an application for some fry. The place mentioned by Mr Pyke would be a good place to send some Loch Leven fry. The applicants expected to pay for the fry. They would, however, not interfere with people who wished to fish. Mr Clifford: I suppose it is understood that they would not be allowed to fish without a license? The Chairman said the place where it was proposed to put the fry was on private property. The applicants intended to net the fish in the course of time, and to can them. The place was very high up, and he did not think anybody would take the trouble to go there to fish. Mr Chisholm: Would it not be as well for the council to express an opinion, about the canning? The Chairman asked why should they express an opinion upon the subject? Mr Chisholm: Because, in my opinion, it would be very objectionable. The Chairman said if a man had a private pond the council could not suggest what he should do with it. Mr Chisholm asked if the place was a private pond. The Chairman replied that it was to all intents and purposes, and the council had nothing to do with the matter except to supply the applicants with the fry.
Mr Russell expressed the same opinion as the chairman — viz., that nothing would come of the proposal to can fish. He also pointed out that the applicants could only in any event can fish once in four years, because they would empty the lake in one year by netting. It was eventually decided to supply the fry to the applicants at the ordinary rates.  -Otago Daily Times, 11/6/1890.

This Company still continues to make rapid and substantial progress with the large works which they have undertaken for the efficient working of their property. The dam at Dismal Swamp, a property, by-the-way, of immense value, has already been completed to a height of 15ft. The outlet pipes are also in the gates in position, and the dam is now running off a temporary bye-wash. The dam at present shows a sheet of water fully two and a-half miles in length, and averaging over a quarter-of -a mile in width. When completed and the wall brought to its full height, the supply of water in this splendid dam will be simply inexhaustible. The outlet pipes will run off under a pressure of 15ft about 170 heads of water continuously. One of the byewashes is taken over a high cliff, and has a fall, or rather two falls, of 350 ft into the creek. From this some idea may be formed of the altitude of the race, as well as of the expense of the undertaking, and of its ultimate value to the Company. At Penstock the race has been cut at an elevation of 650 ft, and commands the river banks in every direction, so that for hydraulic purposes the entire arrangements are unequalled. The fluming is now almost completed, there being only about thirty sections to bring it right on to penstock. The full length of the fluming, when completed, will be about 160 chains, the whole of the fluming consisting of kauri boxes and red pine stands. The size of the boxes is 3ft by 2ft, with a uniform grade of ten inches to the chain. Provision is also made for adding another 12in board, which will make the fluming 3ft by 3ft in all the curves along the line. The boxes are measured out to 3ft 6in, and are tilted up to avoid splash, and bye-washes are provided at intervals of ten chains. As the work progressed, the water was brought along, a plan that enabled those in charge of the work to satisfy themselves as to the satisfactory manner in which operations were being conducted, besides preventing any loss of time when the final moment arrives for making a start. The head of the flume in the Teviot stream is a massively-built weir, edged with stone. The entrance to the boxes is 4ft wide, and is commanded by an iron gate, provided with a screw lift, so that the water can be effectually shut off with the least delay possible. The length of the main line of pipes will be 58 chains, and will consist of 22in doubled riveted steel pipes. The service mains consist of eighteen pipes with branches of llin and 7in. All the castings are in hand, and well on towards completion. The elevators are to be of the quartz bend type, and will be the largest yet used in New Zealand. A number of the service pipes are already on the ground, and the main pipes are to be delivered within the present month. From the details I have given, it will be readily understood that no expense is being spared in prosecuting operations; that the material and workmanship are of the most substantial and enduring character, nothing being left undone that can contribute to the efficient working of the property. When the magnitude and difficulties of the work are taken into consideration, the rapidity and success with which everything.has been pushed forward are most creditable to those on whom the responsibility rested. The entire management from the outset has been entrusted to Messrs Rawlins and Proust, and there can be no doubt whatever but they have fully upheld their reputation and given the fullest satisfaction to all interested in the property. Now that Mr Rawlins has left for Home, Mr Proust is in undisputed charge, and in no better hands could the completion of the work be placed. In a comparatively few weeks everything will be in full swing, and, unless I am much mistaken, the shareholders will very soon thereafter have the pleasure of drawing their first dividend. Further than that I can only say that they deserve it for the spirit of enterprise they have shown right through this important and expensive work. — (Correspondent.)  -Tuapeka Times, 18/6/1890.

(From our own Correspondent.)

Thursday afternoon last was an event in its way, being the time chosen for the formal opening of the above mine. The Dunedin directors present were  Messrs Vincent Pyke, M.H.R., H. S. Valentine, M.H.R., T. Brydone, W. L. Simpson, R. Wilson, J. Hazlett, and H. Leary (secretary); and the local directors — Messrs H. J. Waigth and R. Cockburn. A large number of local shareholders were also present on the auspicious occasion. The proceedings began about four o'clock. 
After an inspection of the paddock and plant, Mr Pyke addressed those present. He stated that he had great pleasure — very great pleasure — in being present at the opening of the claim; for he felt that he could now say that he had not lived in vain. He had projected the scheme 25 years ago, but had not been able till now to execute his plans. The Government proposed first to do the work with the funds of the County Council, and later on by means of a commission of miners. He took pride in saying that in the end he had done it himself. (Cheers.) He reminded them that in Lake Onslow they had the largest artificial lake in the world. — (Applause.) There had also been strong local opposition. It had been said, for instance, that his operations would ruin the district and destroy the demand for labour. He strongly denied this. It would be found, on the contrary, that they would be the salvation of the district. (Hear, hear.) These works had been the parent of all the similar enterprises in the district. He could not speak in too high terms of the skill and devotion of Mr Rene Proust, the engineer of the company, and he was satisfied that the company's interests could not have been in better hands. Personally, he would have much preferred getting the plant from England, and he thought it would have been superior to the Dunedin-made article. They would have saved a delay of six months had this course been adopted. It is well known that under the former system of trucking a ton of stuff a day would be handled, whereas the elevators would put through 2000 tons in a day. (Loud applause.) In conclusion, he assured them with deep feeling that although he was now no longer their member he had their interests sincerely at heart, and he thought, nay, he was convinced, that his old  constituents of the Teviot would never have a truer, a sincerer, friend than himself. — (Prolonged applause.) Mr Pyke then called on Mr Proust to say a few words. 
Mr Proust, who was well received, spoke briefly. He merely said that owing to a few unavoidable accidents, he had been working hard and late to prepare for the opening of the claim, and so he must be excused making a lengthy speech. He would only assure his audience that he had always done his level best (cheers) — and would continue to do so. — (Applause.) 
The next speaker was Mr Valentine, who said that he believed it was the intention of the directors that he should publicly express their entire satisfaction with the conduct of the company's officers. He had first heard of the scheme through Mr Pyke, who had requested him to become one of the company; but he declined to take any steps whatever till he had personally inspected the property. — (Hear, hear.) He visited the place with Mr Pyke, and attempts were made to amalgamate the claims; but, as his audience were aware, the matter fell through. However, after a while, a certain number did amalgamate, and they knew the result. (Cheers.) He could confidently recommend the speculation to investors, and he felt satisfied that it would be a profitable one. Looking around him, he could see how the face of the country was being changed by the happy combination of skill and labour. He would like to express his conviction that the establishment of such companies as the Amalgamated Co. did not interfere with labour, and he believed this would be fully proved in the present case. — (Hear.) On behalf of the directors he once more acknowledged the excellent management of the engineer (Mr Proust), who was carrying on the works most ably in the absence of Mr Rawlins; and he would repeat his conviction that such undertakings as this one would be of material benefit to the district itself and to the colony at large. — (Applause.) 
In reply to a call, Mr R. Wilson said a few words. He stated that at first he did not like the spec; but on consideration he had taken a more favourable view of it. He confessed that he would have no objection if he himself, and his customers, would be benefited in the first place (applause and laughter) and the district in the second place. (Renewed laughter.) He thought that these undertakings would revive the prosperity of the Teviot, and he heartily wished them every success. — (Applause.) 
Mr R. H. Leary wished, on behalf of the chairman and his colleagues, to acknowledge the services of the local directors, Messrs Waigth and Cockburn, and looked forward to the time when it should be his pleasing duty to distribute the golden dividends to the lucky shareholders.  (Loud cheers.) 
Messrs Waigth and Cockburn briefly replied. 
Mr Pyke then spoke a few final words. He said that he would probably never have the pleasure of addressing them again. To his great grief he had been cut off from them, and he deeply felt the separation from the friends of so many years. He took occasion to strongly condemn the institution of triennial parliaments, the reduction of the honorarium, and the reduction of the number of members. Lastly, he bade them all a respectful and affectionate farewell, and he renewed his assurances that they would never have a more devoted friend than himself. — (Applause.) 
An adjournment was then made to the office buildings, when the health of the engineer was drunk in champagne, and the toast of "Prosperity to the Company" was also duly honoured. So ended a very pleasant and successful gathering.  -Tuapeka Times,15/10/1890.

The Roxburgh correspondent of the Tuapeka Times writes: — The Roxburgh Amalgamated Company has again been suffering from a want of water. This is very unfortunate, and must be a cause of heavy lost to the shareholders, particularly as it is likely to continue at intervals unless some better provision is made for a regular water supply. On this present occasion it has been found necessary to shut down one of the elevators, and this, it is easy to understand, is not the way to enable dividends to be declared. The only remedy for such a state of things, as I have more than once stated, it for the whole of the companies interested to combine and finish the dam at Dismal Swamp. It is already about 8ft high, and to leave it in this condition is simply a waste of money. To be of any use it must, at least, be raised to 20ft. The cost of doing that would not be more, I believe, than from £1500 to £1800, and I am afraid the only way to raise this sum is to do as I have suggested. Probably the experience of the approaching summer may bring home more forcibly to the different companies the necessity for this than anything I can say.  -Otago Witness, 12/11/1891.

TENDERS invited for Building in Stone at the Dam at Dismal Swamp, Teviot. 
Plans to be seen with W. Peters, Esq., Manager Roxburgh Amalgamated Company. H. M. Davey, Engineer, Moray Place, Dunedin.   -Tuapeka Times, 9/4/1892.

In the Roxburgh Amalgamated Company's claim two elevators, under the management of Mr William Peters, are in work when the supply of water will permit, and the fortnightly washings-up seem to give regular and satisfactory returns. During the year ended 31st March last, 1,886oz of gold were obtained, which enabled the directors to declare a dividend of 3d per 60,000th share. I understand that final arrangements have at last been completed between this and the two Hercules Companies for increasing the conserving capacity of the reservoir at Dismal Swamp. It is proposed to raise the wall to the height of 30ft., which, it is believed, will create a lake some miles in extent. The work will be commenced in the spring, and when finished I am of opinion that the right out of the Teviot Stream will be a very inferior one, if short of its full supply any time during the year. The company employs between twenty-five and thirty men. The ground already worked, as compared with the area yet to be operated upon, represents a mere hole in the ground, and, given a full and regular supply of water, now that all the initiatory expenses are over, the directors should have no difficulty in presenting the shareholders with monthly dividends. 
The returns from the United Hercules Company's claim up to within the last month or two — when a change for the better set in — have not been as good as in its earlier history. Some poor ground, however, had to be disposed of in order to properly open up the claim, which accounts for the diminished yield. A good run of wash-dirt has again come in sight, which it is hoped will lead into the flat, and the manager is very confident of shortly being able to again place the company upon the dividend-paying list. About twentyfive men are employed. 
The Hercules No. 2 Company is still getting gold, although not in sensational quantities. The future prospects are very encouraging. Shortness of water in the past has been a great drawback, and, coupled with this, a seam of very heavy stones has had to be manipulated, nearly all of which, being too large for the elevator, necessitated the labour of handling. Fortunately this seam has about run out, and there are indications, with a dipping reef to the flat, of better wash-dirt setting in. The last year's returns amounted to 1,068oz of gold, which considerably more than paid working expenses, although the surplus was not sufficient to warrant the declaration of a dividend. Twenty men are employed in and about the claim, which number no doubt will be augmented when the Dismal Swamp Reservoir has been constructed.  -Tuapeka Times, 22/10/1892.


TENDERS invited for the CARTAGE of about 17 Tons of Cement from LAWRENCE (Railway) to LAKE ONSLOW DAM. 
Tenderers must provide efficient tarpaulins. 
Tenders to be sent in at once to Messrs R. H Leary and Co., Bond street, Dunedin.  -Otago Daily Times, 8/12/1893.

Sir, — On Thursday, the 18th inst., a party of 18 left Roxburgh at 5 30 in the morning to undertake the above-mentioned trip. True to time every member rolled up, and a start was made over the ranges, in which direction Dismal Swamp, or I should say Lake Onslow — the former being a very inappropriate name for the place, — lies. The journey over was most enjoyable, the ranges stretching out as far as the eye could reach, covered with a luxurious growth of grass, and every mile or so a streamlet of water adding to its beauty. The country is well adapted for sheep grazing, and the next thing required is a railway to the Teviot to carry away sheep by the thousand to be frozen for the London market.

After a ride of about five hours and a-half Lake Onslow was reached and all were busily engaged in unsaddling and tethering their horses. An inspection of the works proved a wonderful sight, and many thanks are due to Mr Cockburn, the Supervisor, in explaining the modus operandi of the working. A short account of the aforesaid, I think, will not be out of place.  A large dam is being constructed for supplying some of the large mining companies' is being built along the bed of the Teviot stream so as to back the water over a large area of country. A stone quarry is situate directly opposite the dam wall, and blocks of stone are swung to the required places by means of blocks and tackle secured to an overhead wire. Two large outlet pipes of 2ft diameter are built in at the bottom of the dam, and the supply is regulated through these by means of shut-off gates, as the miners call them. Another pipe of 2ft 6in diameter is being placed a little higher up on the wall to ease the overflow. After having a good look round, all indulged in a grand spread of refreshments (unsurpassable), Mr Cockburn very kindly boiling the tea in the storeroom used for stacking the cement.  -Otago Witness, 25/1/1894.

The "overhead wire."
Near the anchor of the "overhead wire."
Image may contain: outdoor, water and nature
The original Lake Onslow dam.  Hocken Library photo.

The Roxburgh amalgamated's claim beside the Clutha River.

The annual meeting of the Roxburgh Amalgamated Mining and Sluicing Company was held in the Chamber of Commerce yesterday afternoon. There were about 15 shareholders present, and Mr W. L. Simpson presided. 
The Chairman said: Before proceeding with the business for which this meeting has been immediately called together, I think it a fit and proper thing that the company should place upon its minutes an expression of the shareholders' sorrow and regret at hearing of the death of the Hon. Vincent Pyke, the originator of the company. It is one of the many schemes of the deceased gentleman's fertile brain, and not the least practical and successful; and the formation of our Lake Onslow will stand as a lasting memorial of the interest the deceased gentleman took in the development of the goldfields of Otago from their infancy to their mature age, which is 33 years. I would, therefore, move — "That this meeting record their regret at the death of the Hon. V. Pyke, and desire to express their appreciation of his energy and ability displayed in the formation of this company, and their sympathy with his widow in her bereavement." 
Mr J, L. Gillies was sorry to have the opportunity of seconding the minute which was proposed to be recorded, but he was at the same time gratified to be in the position to speak strongly and warmly in support of it. He had known the Hon. Vincent Pyke from the earliest days of Victoria. He was on the goldfields there before Mr Pyke's arrival, and having been personally associated with him all the years to the present time, he cordially seconded and supported everything which the chairman had said about Mr Pyke. There were many points in connection with Mr Pyke's life which he would like to mention at the proper time and under other circumstances, but he would content himself by expressing his personal regard for Mr Pyke. The motion was carried unanimously.  -Otago Witness, 7/6/1894.


The 'Mount Benger Mail’ says: — “Our readers will hear with great pleasure that there is every probability of the Government in the near future taking over the Dismal Swamp reservoir and proceding with the raising of the dam wall. We have no official authority for making the announcement, but have the information from an authoritative source, as our adviser is well informed as to the intentions of the Government in the matter. The Hon. Mr Larnach has urged the claims of the district with regard to the reservoir on the Government with characteristic energy and persistence, both prior to and during the late session, and the Minister for Mines, who has always been a firm believer in the project, has brought it before the cabinet, with the effect, we understand, that they have allocated the necessary funds.
ROXBURGH. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) On Friday, I paid a visit to the Roxburgh Amalgamated Co’s claim, and Louden and party’s. All the faces of wash in the former claim are looking very well, and the prospects of the mine never looked brighter. There is enough ground stripped for six months’ work; the next stripping will be on a large scale. That well-known landmark, Louden’s old dam, will then disappear, and also the greater part of the existing flat, together with the present road line. No. 3, or the top paddock is taking out another cut of good wash, the high reef in it being very payable. No. 2 paddock is a hole in which the wash is fully 20ft deep. Another lift has been put up above this paddock in order to remove a bluff of wash and sand. It will then be easier to afterwards work this hole. This new lift is in the north of the claim, and makes the second put up in the last fortnight. The wash in this part of the claim is exceedingly rich, and there are two acres of ground (stripped) to work. The reef is taking another dip to the east, and is about 30 chains from the river, or in the middle of the lower flat. During the coming week alterations will be made in the pipe lines, and the two new elevators will be connected. I remarked some huge boulders, each weighing a ton or two, if not more. Including the manager, there are 29 men in the claim — l8 men in the shifts, working two elevators, a nozzleman, jetman, and a tailman to each shift; a carpenter, blacksmith and mate, and seven daymen. 
Louden and party have shifted the headbox back a few yards, and are at present taking out a large depression in the reef. This week they intend to sink another six feet, and the elevator will then be lifting about 20ft. The drainage is pretty heavy. By means of the hydraulic plant they are now able to put through dirt which they could not touch by their former method, and which would not pay to work. The boxes have so little fall (only 3in in 12ft, instead of 9in in 12ft), and so much dirt is shifted, that a supplementary feed-pipe has to be used to supply more water to carry away the tailings. The run they are on at present is thought to be the same as that of the Amalgamated. As soon as the present paddock is finished the plant will be removed down to a former tailrace. Advantage was taken of the recent rise in the river to overhaul the water-race from the Teviot Creek to the dam.   -Dunstan Times, 14/5/1897.

From the pages of the Otago Daily Times comes a rare first-hand glimpse of life for those who looked after the equipment at the Lake Onslow dam.
Dear Dot. — I got my last letter sent up from home, and I see that you were wanting a description of the Dismal Swamp. Well, it is a dam that was made to work a claim in Roxburgh, the Roxburgh Amalgamated Gold Mining Company. The wall of the dam is made of stone and cement, with three large pipes for letting the water out. There are 1500 acres of land under water, and it keeps the Teviot River running all the year round. There is a boat on the dam, and we had some long rows when we first came here, but there is 6in of ice all over it now, so that game is stopped. There are hundreds of ducks and swans here, and some big trout. It is terribly cold, and there is not much wood — a sort of pine scrub and wood that we pull out of the ground, called bog wood. I saw in Silverbell's letter that she could not make out who I am. I thing it will be safe to give you a little clue to my identity, Silverbell. My initials are G. C, and it was I who had the gramophone at the Warrington Sunday school picnic. I shall come up your way some Sunday when I get back to civilisation again. My mate calls this place "No-man's Land." There would be a big crowd in Dunedin to see the Duke. I saw the Prince of Wales — that is, our present King, in England, so thought there would be nothing extra to see in his son. Dear Dot, I have done a lot of travelling. I have been in Canada, United States, England, Capetown, Tasmania, and over a lot of New Zealand. I am known wherever you go, between Timaru and the Nuggets southward. A lot of the little folk will think I am too big for the D.L.F. Page, but I have two years to the retiring age yet. With love to yourself and all the little folk, — Yours truly, CAPTAIN JACKSON BARRY. 
[This is something new indeed — one of our correspondents to have seen the King, and therefore quite indifferent about seeing the Duke of Cornwall! I hope the original Captain J. B.s mantle has not fallen on this one. —DOT.]  -Otago Witness, 31/7/1901.

Dear Dot, — I have left the Dismal Swamp. We had to walk 12 miles through 15in of snow, and it got pretty tough by the time we reached our journey's end. We had a spree here at the Teviot Station, giving a returned trooper, Corporal Rumble, a gold chain and maltese cross. The Miller's Flat people presented him with a gold watch, so he is pretty well rigged out. Dear Dot, at the Miller's Flat affair I met Sweep and another D.L.F. When she saw me with a badge on she came and asked me if I knew Dum Dum. All the D.L.F. that I meet seem to be terribly anxious about D. D., so he better look out. Some of the country bumpkins up this way think you gave me a terrible knock in answer to my last letter, but I could not see it. There is a strong feeling against condensing the correspondence. All the D.L.F. that I meet are talking about it. Sweep was growling because his first letter was put on the racket. I did not see his letter. When I saw him he was writing another. With love to the D L.F. and yourself, — Yours truly, CAPTAIN JACKSON BARRY.
[Of course, Captain J. B., there must necessarily be discontent at the condensed letters, but what else can be done? Even as it is the editor warned me the other day that he had enough letters in hand for two weeks, and asked me when I expected to catch up on them. I couldn't say, and I can't say. — DOT.]  -Otago Witness, 4/9/1901.

Vincent Pyke was ten years gone when "Jock Scott" wrote the following description of a fishing trip to the lake. 

By Jock Scott. 
Tell an angler about a place where the trout are plentiful and heavy, and he has straightway an overpowering desire to visit that place and enter into active warfare with the inhabitants of that particular piece of water. Of such a place I had heard, and as I claim to be no less enthusiastic than my brethren of the rod I became feverishly impatient to get me to what had the reputation of being an angler's paradise. It was therefore with no little satisfaction that I packed my traps and took my seat in the south express on the morning of the 2nd inst. en route for Lake Onslow, which lies over the hills from Roxburgh. The place where the lake now is was at one time known as the Dismal Swamp — not an inviting name — through which ran the waters of the Teviot River; and some 10 or 12 years, ago the waters of that stream were dammed at a point where the river issued from the swamp by a mining company. The weir erected was a costly affair, and a massive construction, and occupied a considerable time to complete. It was built of masonry to a height of some 24ft, and standing on the top of it an idea of the great width of the base is obtained. It is a big, solid, substantial piece of wall, and has to keep back the water of the lake, which is a good four miles long and about a mile across at its widest part — an imposing looking sheet of when it first comes into view on crossing over Mount Teviot. The country about it is, for the most part, gently undulating in character, and entirely destitute of anything in the shape of timber or scrub. When I first heard the title "Onslow" I naturally associated it with the Governor of that name, but find that it is the outcome of the proverbial wit of the late Mr Vincent Pyke, who, in view of the work of erecting the weir being very protracted, remarked that it was getting "on slow," and Onslow the lake was consequently called. Such is a brief description of the water I started off to fish. I reached Lawrence in due course, had just time to attend to the cravings of appetite, and mounted the box of Craig and Co.'s coach for Roxburgh. The ride proved an agreeable one, Driver Dungey being, like all his class, prolific of anecdote, and well informed with regard to the country through which we passed. With such a genial companion the road was by no means so tedious as it would otherwise have been, and we had passed over 50 miles of it before I began to have a feeling that I should not be sorry when we reached our destination. One thing that struck me very much was the quantity of fruit I saw going to waste as we neared Roxburgh. Various kinds lay in heaps under the trees, and on inquiry I was informed that it scarcely paid to send it to town, the ruling prices being so low and the cost of carriage so high. I understand there is a strong agitation setting in for the establishment of a preserving works, a movement that, if carried into effect, should be the means of saving a very large sum. One fruit-grower mentioned to me in Roxburgh that he calculated he lost £300 worth of fruit lying on the ground going to waste at that moment, and no doubt there were many more in the same position. It was at the invitation of Mr R. Cockburn, of Roxburgh, that I made, my visit, and I found that gentleman awaiting the arrival of the coach at Mrs Heton's hotel. A hearty handshake, followed almost immediately by the usual inquiry as to "what I would have," and we were deep in the subject of the approaching trip over the hills to the lake. I found he had made all necessary preparations in the way of securing horses and laying in a stock of tucker, and it was agreed that we should start at 5 o'clock next morning. After a pleasant chat of half an hour I was introduced to a number of Roxburgh men, all of whom exhibited the greatest friendliness fowards me, and. seemed in every way anxious that my brief stay amongst them should be a pleasant one. When fishing men get yarning time flies and it was somewhat late when I found myself in the very comfortable bedroom that had been. allotted me. It seemed to me that I had barely got to sleep when I heard the tap at my door that signalled the time for turning out; and after a hasty breakfast Cockburn and I repaired to the stables for our horses. Now, I don't profess to be a horseman, and it was with some inward misgiving that I viewed the tall quadruped that was to have the honour of conveying me over the mountains. To me it was a bit of an undertaking to get over those hills, though, these chaps in the country think nothing of it and Cockburn is probably as much at home in the saddle as out of it. A few minutes sufficed to get all the gear on the packhorse, and Cockburn led off, dragging the packer after him, I bringing up the rear with an air of  nonchalance I was far from feeling. Any doubts I may have had about my mount were, however, speedily dissipated, as he quickly proved to be perfectly quiet and sure-footed, the latter a quality essential to safety when scrambling over the hills that lie between Roxburgh and the lake. Leaving the road immediately after we had crossed the bridge, we struck up a steep rocky face to the right, and had soon passed over what Cockburn told me was the worst part of the journey. After half an hour's travel I was greatly surprised to find the vast extent of splendid country that extended on all sides. Looking at the barren rocky hills that hedge in Roxburgh, it would never be thought that half a mile behind them was country good enough to grow almost anything, and consisting chiefly of a great expanse of comparatively level hilltop. A good deal of cultivation, is done away back from Roxburgh, principally of turnips for the countless mobs of sheep that roam about the great Teviot Station, but nothing like what might be cultivated. We had not proceeded very far when we fell in with a Mr Fairbairn, a local angler of great enthusiasm and considerable prowess with the rod. He would fain have joined us on our trip to the lake, but his duties forbade it, and he had to content himself with a half promise to come across the hills on the Saturday evening. My guide resumed the order of march after a brief, friendly "crack" with Fairbairn, and we plodded on in silence for some time, chiefly for the reason that my Arab steed was not such a good walker as Cockburn's mount, and, besides, persisted in trying to snatch the top off a Scotch thistle or take a passing nibble at a tuft of grass as he went along, and thereby lost ground, and left me out of ear-shot of my companion. Having made for lost ground for about the twentieth time by urging my nag into a trot at an unusually good part of the track — that is, where there was any track at all — I bawled to Cockburn the inquiry as to whether a mountain I saw on my left, which looked dim in the far distance, was Mount Teviot, and almost reeled in my saddle at the reply I got. "Yes," said he, "Do you see the small gap in the middle of it?" I replied I did. "Well," he said, "we go right over there." and this after riding for what seemed to me like hours. However, I had passed the Rubicon, and there was no going back. Well, after toiling along for about another three hours we reached the pass over the mountain, and had no sooner passed through it than we were in sight of the lake, still three or four miles oft. Under ordinary circumstances I should have been guilty of some such extravagance as tossing my hat in the air and giving vent to my feelings by shouting at the pitch of my lungs (I put the finishing part to the sentence in pass the word "shouting" should be misinterpreted). From the pass over the mountain it was a gradual descent for a mile or two, when the ground became pretty level, and induced Cockburn, who was again some hundred yards in front of me, to urge his horse into a canter. Never shall I forget the agonies of the next five minutes, till his horse subsided into a walk. My gallant steed had a natural aversion to being left, and started off after his stable companion at what I suppose was a canter. At every equine movement I was pitched up in the air (it seemed to me about three feet), and then came thud down on to the hard saddle, only to receive another heave into the air. In my tender condition after five hours in the saddle the effect of every descent to the pigskin may be imagined. I could have flung my arms round Cockburn's neck when he dropped to a walking pace again. Half an hour afterwards we were at the hut, which stands on an eminence about 150 yds from the lake, and in another quarter of an hour the horses were unsaddled, and turned adrift in the horse-paddock. And here I must say that Cockburn showed the greatest consideration for me, and from the time we dismounted to our return to Roxburgh took upon himself almost every bit of the work, and was most unselfish. What makes it worse is that, as I will show later on, I never had the opportunity of thanking him for the great kindness he displayed towards me all through the trip. I had been told that the fish could be seen jumping in the lake, but when we got there nothing broke the surface of the water A hasty snack, and rods were dragged from their cases and put together, and we descended the hill towards the boat-house, where the boat lately supplied by the Otago Acclimatsation Society is safely kept under lock and key. The boat-house is built right on the edge of the lake, and is about 100 yds from the weir before referred to, and Cockburn persuaded me to try my luck with the minnow between it and the weir, while he made preparations for getting the boat out. I find my little account of the trip has proved longer than I anticipated, and I must reserve the practical result of my visit to the lake for a future issue.  -Otago Witness, 24/2/1904.

The annual meeting of shareholders in the Roxburgh Amalgamated Mining and Sluicing Company, Limited, was held in the Stock Exchange Call Room yesterday afternoon, Mr W. L. Simpson (chairman of directors) presiding. 
In moving the adoption of the annual report and balance-sheet, the Chairman said that what they had forecasted a year ago did not eventuate. The ground had not come up to the expectation of the manager, and they had gone further back. They would see that the yield of gold was not even equal to the wages. That state of matters could not continue; hence the necessity for the resolutions which were about to be brought before them at an extraordinary meeting. 
The report and balance-sheet were adopted. 
Messrs Simpson. H. K. Wilkinson, and H. Crusty were re-elected directors, and Messrs William Brown and Co. were reappointed auditors. Captain Sundstrum was elected an additional director. 
An extraordinary general meeting was then held for the purpose of considering the reconstruction scheme. The objects of the reconstruction are to modify the constitution of the company, to modernise its memorandum of association, to reduce its capital, which is excessive, and, in particular, to obtain the additional money, which is essential if use is to be made of the new claim. Scheme of reconstruction: —A new company to be incorporated under the name of The Roxburgh Sluicing Company, Limited, with capital of £10,000, divided into 6,000 ordinary and 4,000 preference shares of £1 each. Members of the present company to receive fully paid up ordinary shares in the ratio of one such share for every five shares held by them, or as near as may be. Preference shareholders alone to receive dividends (whether out of profits or in the event of a winding up) until all calls paid on preference shares have been refunded, together with a bonus of 25 per cent. Thereupon preference shares cease to be preferential, and become ordinary shares. Dividends on the reduced capital will absorb much smaller amounts than on the present large number of shares. The 4,000 preference shares to be offered: (1) To shareholders in the present company in proportion to their holdings. (2) To shareholders in the present company generally. (3) Any surplus not applied for by present shareholders may be dealt with as directors of new company think fit. Preference shares to be offered on these terms: 2s 6d on application, 2s 6d on allotment, and the balance by calls of not more than 2s 6d at intervals of not less than 30 days. Minimum subscription proposed for preference shares 3,000. Qualification for director of new company 50 preference shares. Messrs W. L. Simpson, H. K. Wilkinson, Henry Crust, and William Brown to be the first directors of the new company till first statutory meeting, when they shall retire, but shall be eligible for re-election. New company takes over all liabilities of present company, and pays all expenses of liquidation. For the above considerations the whole of the assets of the present company to be transferred to the new company. With every dividend paid on the preference shares the preferential position will be diminished, and the relative position of the ordinary shares will be improved until both classes of shares are on a par. As an illustration or the scheme a, holder of 600 shares in the present company will receive 120 ordinary shares in the new company, fully paid up, and may take up at least 30 preference shares. Eighty preference shares will entitle the holder to dividends amounting to £100 before they become ordinary shares.
The Chairman said that there was not the slightest chance of the Government taking over the water rights, and the only chance of the company preserving the rights was to carry the water up to the ground they had taken up on the upper flat, which they had bored, and believed, from all the evidence they could gather, to be a fair proposition and ought to be remunerative to investors. Mr William Brown pointed out that the heart of the proposition was to reduce the capital of £30,000 to one-fifth, while preference shares were issued to provide the money for the construction of the new water race.
Captain Sundstrum said that the proposal was the only solution of the problem. With careful management and just ordinary luck the company ought to come out more than holding their own. The necessary resolutions providing for liquidation and reconstruction were then carried. Mr Daniel Anderson was appointed liquidator.  -Evening Star, 12/8/1916.

There is one telling phrase in the above which I  in my admitted ignorance of business in general and the gold-winning business in particular  find significant.  That is the putting of the future of the amalgamated company on the basis of "just ordinary luck."  There is the gambler, the sufferer of gold fever, hoping that with the next throw of the dice, the next pan of wash, the next water race and paddock, things will turn around.
Sale of Amalgamated shares, 4 August 1916: 1 shilling, 3 pence.  
Sale ditto, 16 August, 1916: 6 pence.

Mining Notes
The Roxburgh Amalgamated Claim have suspended operations as the claim on which their plant is at present is now worked out. They intend to shift to ground at Commissioner's Flat which will mean an outlay of about £3,000 but the work will have to be postponed till after the war owing to scarcity of labor and the high cost of material. The Ladysmith Sluicing Coy. is also suffering from the shortage of labour and are at present only working dayshifts.  -Mt Benger Mail,  17/4/1918.

Roxburgh Notes
The Teviot Electric-Power Board has arranged with the Dunedin City Council for the services of its Waipori engineer (Mr A. J. Aldridge) to prepare the necessary plans, estimates, etc., preparatory to placing a proposal before ratepayers to borrow the necessary capital. Mr Aldridge has had long and practical experience with the City Corporation, and is well qualified for this position. Once the loan proposal is sanctioned by the ratepayers no time will be lost in developing the scheme, and it is confidently hoped that in less than two years the whole district from Allan's Hill to Island Block will be supplied with electricity. The Provisional Committee was fortunate in securing, at a most satisfactory figure, the mining plant and water rights of the Roxburgh Amalgamated Company. This carries with it a valuable asset in Lake Onslow, which now becomes the property of the board, and under its control the conservation of water during the dry season will ensure a never-failing supply in the driest parts of the year. The pipes will be utilised in piping the water from the intake to the power house, thus dispensing with the present fluming and open race.  -Otago Daily Times, 20/11/1920.

The first journey from Roxburgh to Lake Onslow per medium of a motor car was undertaken on Tuesday, December 27th, when Dr Gilmour’s Dodge car, with the doctor at the wheel, and all other occupants, managed to arrive right out at the lake.The actual distance from Roxburgh as tabulated by the speedometer was 25 miles and the highest point crossed, Mt. Teviot, is at an altitude of over 3000 feet. The party had a very extensive view of the surrounding country from this coign of vantage, including views of the snow-capped Remarkables, Mt. St. Bathans and the Hawkdun range. The circuitous road from Teviot Station gave ample opportunity of demonstrating the driver’s skill and the passengers’ confidence. The car was able to approach right up to the slopes of Mt. Teviot before it was found necessary to put chains on the back wheels, this being necessary as in a few of the gullies the road was a trifle loose and wet owing to the recent rainfall. A brief visit was made to the dam waterfall where the party received a welcome from that keen angler, Mr R. Cockburn, who was out on a fishing expedition. After one and all had had a refreshing cup of tea and inscribed their names in the visitors’ book at the hut, a few snapshots were taken as mementoes and credentials, after which the return journey home was accomplished without any undue excitement. Several of the extensive paddocks traversed are covered with excellent feed, and the newly shorn sheep were looking in good condition, while it is pleasing to record that the elusive bunny is a negligible quantity. Owing to the necessarily loose surface of the newly-formed road and its occasional steep grades, it would be unwise to attempt the journey by motor in anything but the driest weather, and it was a matter of congratulation that the pioneer party included an alert high-school boy who was an expert at opening the usual variety of farm gates, of which there are no fewer than twenty on the lake road. This trip should prove an attractive one for the many visitors to the Teviot district as well as to those living in the district. The journey from Roxburgh to the lake can be done in about two hours. Anglers will find the speckled beauties in goodly number and condition, shootists can stalk the quail, the duck, or bunny, and the invigorating air and undulating scenery is free to all.  -Mt Benger Mail, 4/1/1922.

The Cromwell, Clyde, and Alexandra districts are arranging for a local board to take their supply from the Fraser River; Roxburgh and Miller’s Flat have already elected a board and purchased the Ladysmith and Roxburgh Amalgamated Company’s water rights.  -Otago Daily Times, 10/4/1922.

Roxburgh Amalgamated Gold Mining arid Sluicing Co. — Application for renewal of water race licenses for races numbers 910, 912, and 914. Objected to by Teviot Molyneux Gold Mining Co. Mr Moore appeared on behalf of the Roxburgh Amalgamated Co., and Mr Fletcher for the objectors.
Mr Fletcher for the objectors stated that the 1915 Act said that if the races under mention had not been bona fide used and occupied the renewals of same could not be granted. For the last five years these races had never been used, but for two years out of the five a protection over same was held by the Roxburgh Amalgamated Co. The whole purpose of the Mining Act was to protect miners’ rights, and if these renewals were granted they would not help mining, and the water races would he used for electrical purposes by the Teviot Power Board. 
Mr Janies Morrin stated that he had been working for the Roxburgh Amalgamated Co. up to about five years ago, when work in the mine had ceased. Since then he had been working for the Teviot Molyneux Co. The water race in question had not been used for the past five years. Mr Moore, on behalf of the Roxburgh Amalgamated Co., stated that they had started mining in 1890, and had continued right up to 1917. They did not dispute not using the water. The company went into voluntary liquidation in 1915 for the purpose of enlarging their company. In 1917 they found they could not carry on mining operations owing to several reasons. They had applied for protection for another 12 months. Under the Mining Act they could not apply for more than two years’ protection. In September, 1920, they decided to sell their property to the Teviot Electric Power Board, and in January, 1921, the agreement for sale of same was drawn out. Under the agreement an arrangement was made to the effect that if the company did not give the Power Board 25 heads of water a concession of £250 on the sale would have to be made to the Power Board. If the rights were renewed the Roxburgh Amalgamated Company would be entitled to this £250. He did not think that the Act as stated by the objectors applied to these cases. The rights were originally granted under the Act of 1891. They were entitled under this Act to a definite right of renewal, such licenses to be renewable at the end of the term. Where an application for renewal was made before their licenses had run out this did not affect them. In the 1915 Act it was stated that if application for renewal was made prior to the expiry of the license it was not liable for forfeiture. 
Mr J. H. Waigth (senior) stated that he was mine manager for the Roxburgh Amalgamated Co. from 1893 to 1917. Was a shareholder in the company in 1916, when they went into voluntary liquidation. The company had held the rights since 1890. In September, 1921. the Official Assignee was appointed liquidator of the company. He was certain the company appointed a voluntary liquidator in 1916. There was an agreement made with the Teviot Power Board as to how many heads of water should be passed on to them. 
The Warden stated that after going fully into the matter he was satisfied that that part of the Act which stated that for the licenses to be renewed the holders had to show bona fide proof of use of same being made, was applicable to these cases. This had not been done, and his decision would be that the applications for renewal be refused. Costs £9 9s were allowed to the objectors.  -Mt Benger Mail, 26/4/1922.

(In Liquidation); First and Final Dividend of 20s in the pound. 
W. W. SAMSON, Official Assignees Dunedin, 6th June, 1922.  -Otago Daily Times, 7/6/1922.

Visitors from as far afield as Dunedin and Invercargill were present yesterday with the thronging Roxburgh townsfolk and district residents when the Hon. G. J. Anderson officially opened the Teviot Power Board works. 
The power station and scope of the works merit some description. 
The power station is situated on the side of a hill about 200 ft above the level of the Teviot River, and is built on a foundation of solid rock. It commands a fine view of the top of the district it supplies. Installed within the station are two pelton wheels of 235 h.p. each. Direct connection is made with two 125 k.w. generators. The speed of these units is 1,000 revolutions per minute. The station will be operated as an unattended station, and provision has been made for the installation of one more machine of double the capacity of the present ones when required. This will give an ultimate capacity of 1,000 h.p. The switching station is situated on the main road in view of the power station, and contains all the switchboard and semi-automatic equipment. The outgoing lines are fed from this station, and all electrical operations in connection with the starting and stopping of the plant are controlled from here through an underground cable connecting both stations. 
The whole of the work has been carried out by the board under the supervision of its engineer, Mr A. P. Aldridge, with Mr J. C. Collins as assistant engineer and Mr W. Berryman as foreman. The cost has been £30,000. The members of the board are Messrs J. H. Waigth, jun. (chairman) J. George. T. P. Michelle, R. T. Kinaston, J. T. Rooney, J. Hamilton, and H. McDonald. Mr R. Cockburn is secretary. 
The Minister stated that it gave him intense pleasure to assist in this very important work. There were some thirty-six power boards in New Zealand, and he thought it spoke well for the south that the idea, of such boards originated in Southland. Mr Rodger (chairman of the Southland Power Board) was the originator of the idea of setting up power boards, in Southland they could not get the Government to provide the power they required, but the self-reliant people there decided to provide it themselves, and the idea of power boards had since spread throughout the country. The Teviot Power Board was providing the people with a very essential commodity. This was the era of electricity, which was enabling the people to secure benefits at a rate which would not be otherwise possible, The people of the district were getting a very cheap scheme. He understood that the whole amount borrowed was about £35,000. It had been possible at that price because of the enormous amount of work done before the Public Works Department drove an exceedingly hard bargain with him for the rights which they were now using. This scheme of water conservation for mining and power originated in 1888, when Mr Vincent Pyke made an application for a dam site of 1,500 acres situated at the Dismal Swamp, at the foot of Mount Teviot.
The area of the dam had remained the same since the original grant, but in 1894 the walls were raised 5ft. Mr Vincent Pyke saw the possibilities of the Dismal Swamp as a dam site. If it had not been for the public spirit of such men as Mr Pyke, Sir William Fraser, Mr J. O. Brown, and Mr John Ewing the prosperity which Central Otago enjoyed to-day would not be in existence. (Applause.) The company that was using the dam last of all lost about £51,000 in it, and the Teviot Power Board had got all that. By putting its power station at a high level it was enabled to use the water twice — once for power and once for irrigation. 
The Public Works Department had not wasted any water. It realised the value of irrigation, which had transformed all that portion of the country where it was employed. Lake Onslow at present could supply an enormous amount of water, and when it was raised to the height intended it would irrigate the whole of the Roxburgh Valley. Now that they had the scheme he hoped they would take full advantage of it. If the dam were raised to the height required they would have a source of power that would suffice for irrigation and mining. All the mining was not yet done in that valley. There were many places where mining would pay, provided water was available and energy was put into the work. 
Congratulatory speeches were made by Mr Shacklock (Dunedin), Mr A. W. Rodger (Invercargill), and others. There was a dinner in the evening, and later the borough lights were switched on.  -Evening Star, 28/3/1924.
Power House at Roxburgh - Hocken Library Photo.
By George M. Moir.
Written for the Otago Daily Times.
Situated high up among the hills of Teviot, Otago, is an artificial lake which has been in the past, and promises to become again, an angler's paradise. It lies on a direct line between Roxburgh and Middlemarch, and its distance from the former is about eight miles less than from the latter, measured as the crow flies. In olden days its site was known as the Dismal Swamp, but some 30 odd years ago the idea was conceived of converting it into a dam to conserve a continuous supply of water in the Teviot River for mining purposes. 
Until quite recently this water was used to sluice away rich agricultural land and wash it down the river till it settled m the lower reaches, where it now constitutes a menace to the safety of thousands of acres of fertile plain and all the homes built thereon. The ultimate failure of the search for the precious metal and all the negative wealth associated with it has paved the way for the success to-day of hydroelectricity and irrigation with their train of positive wealth — the one to lighten mans daily toil and the other to increase the fruits thereof. To-day a great deal of the water is used for irrigation, and the remainder generates electricity for Roxburgh, Millers Flat Cromwell, and intermediate places. The day is not far distant when it will be linked up with the Waipori scheme. Even the water from the turbines is not wasted, for it is conducted over into a low-level race which irrigates Roxburgh East.
Apart from its more serious object, Lake Onslow provides sport for the disciples of Isaak Walton. As we had tried without a great deal of success to get a basket in the Teviot River and in some of the large dredge pools in the vicinity of Roxburgh, we determined to take the advice of the local experts and pay a visit to Lake Onslow. Accordingly we arranged for a man from one of the garages to motor us out one day and come back two days later. After somewhat hurried preparations we got away, taking the road leading out into the recently subdivided Teviot settlement. This climbs up the steep hillside across the river from the town, and, after reaching a more level place crosses twice the race which conveys the water for irrigation and electricity. Just beyond the race is a rabbit-proof fence which appears to be an effective barrier. One cannot help noticing the hordes of rabbits on its lower side, which is eaten bare of grass while on the upper side splendid pasture is conserved for the sheep. Beyond the race the road continues to rise for some time until more gently undulating country is reached, where the road is in better condition. Here and there we saw fields of clover and grass nearly a foot high.
Having now ascended to a considerable height, we were able to see some more distant landmarks, notably the Blue Mountains. Occasionally, too, we had glimpses of the river valley in the vicinity of Ettrick and Miller's Flat. Quite early the driver pointed out the road away ahead where it crossed the shoulder of Mount Teviot at a height of nearly 3000 ft. Almost all the way the road follows a leading ridge, so that it winds about considerably. In a few places there are fences erected on both sides, but for the most part there is a fence on but one side or none at all. This necessitates frequent stops to open gates, of which there are a total of 15. As a matter of fact, the road has not long been formed and no metal has been anywhere as there is so little traffic. The result is that it cannot be traversed by motor-cars unless the surface is fairly dry. The first motor to make the .journey was driven by Dr J. R. Gilmour in 1921. One of the objects of the road is to open up the Teviot Estate for closer settlement. Mo«t of the fences beside it are new, and in many places fencing material was laid out along it ready for erection. The settlers who were successful in the recent ballot have found the erection of these rabbit-proof fences exceedingly costly. Some four or five miles from Roxburgh we were shown where a track led off to "The Dip," a picnic spot deep in the gorge, of the Teviot River, which is on the left all the way. About an equal distance further on a road branched off to the Bridge Hut, which is about 12 miles from the town. As the gorge in which the river flows, is not nearly so deep and rugged near this hut, it is a favourite camping place for anglers. 
Further on, we passed a patch of manuka from which it is usually necessary to take firewood, but we had brought with us a supply ready cut. The long steady climb and the fact that the engine required adjustment caused the water, to evaporate very freely from the radiator, so that we were glad to refill from a pool by the wayside. After the junction of the road from Miller's Flat there is in many places more grass on the surface except where the grade is steeper. 
As the climb continued, the panorama that was unfolded became more and more extensive. Away to the south-west appeared the tops of the Hokonuis, near Gore. To the east of the Blue Mountains, which now seemed almost below us, could be seen the high hills behind Clinton sloping away down in the direction of the Nuggets. Westwards, over the top of the Old Man Range, were the highest peaks of the Garvie Mountains, on which lay some large patches of snow. The higher part of the Old Man effectively blocked out the Remarkables, but Mount Pisa, about N.N.W., was easily recognised, just to the left of the Pinelheugh peaks of the Knobby Range close at hand. 
Close under the top of Mount Teviot (3203 ft) we stopped again at a little spring to replenish the water supply. Just beyond is the highest point of the road, and soon after passing this we beheld Lake Onslow rather less than 1000 ft below us. The bird's-eye view of the lake obtainable from here shows its margin to be even more irregular and more deeply indented than the map would lead one to expect. To the south-east was the Lammerlaw Top, and a lower branch of this range formed the watershed to the east between the Lake Onslow basin and the head waters of the Taieri River. Over the top of this watershed the Rock and Pillar was clearly distinguishable. To the left of this, and about north-east, two or three peaks, blue in the distance, were distinctly visible. These were at first thought to be in the vicinity of Mount Ida, but reference to the map proved them to be none other than Mounts Domet and Kurow, which of course overlook the Waitaki River near the town bearing the latter name. We did not descend far, however, before these landmarks were lost to view. It did not take long to get down to the lake, and the 25 miles from Roxburgh were covered in about two and a-quarter hours. 
Here we found a capacious iron hut, consisting of a large and a small room. The latter was floored and lined, and contained two or three bunks, while the former contained the fireplace and more bunks. We found it occupied by a party of four whose energies were divided between fishing and shag-hunting, and repairing a boat belonging to the Roxburgh Anglers' Club. These men treated us most hospitably during our sojourn with them, and entertained us with accounts of past experiences at the lake. Although these stories did not lack the characteristics usually associated with fishermen's yarns, they appeared to be more or less founded upon fact. Long before the present road was formed they had often ridden over the hills to have a few days' fishing at the lake. In those days the lake was well stocked with large trout, so that it was quite a common thing to catch plenty of fish from 51b to 101b weight, and even heavier. The mining companies which created the lake were not interested in the fish it contained, so that when dry seasons came they did not hesitate to drain the lake in order to keep their plant running. The inevitable result was the destruction of huge quantities of fine trout. It is some years now since this last happened, and as the improved means of access has led to a greater interest being taken in the lake, especially by the local Anglers' Club, such a state of affairs should not be permitted to recur without protest. 
Near the dam there is a small concrete slab bearing the inscription: "Finished March 24, 1894. H. L. H. M. Davey, engineer; R.H.C." The writer was informed that the weir was first built to a height of only 8ft, but later 12ft were added, making it the present height. The margin is, of course, very irregular, but the dam is some three miles long, and at the widest part it measures about half its length. The more or less flat nature of the country around it will be understood when mention is made of the fact that an increase of but 2ft in the height of the weir will serve to double the storage capacity. It would not be a matter of very great difficulty to double the height of the wall, for it has been built in a splendid situation at the commencement of a narrow gorge. The top of the wall is some 30 or 40 yards long and about 4ft wide on top. No doubt owing to the difficulty of conveying cement to the site the wall does not consist of a solid block of concrete, but it has been constructed by cementing together layer after layer of huge slabs of schist rock. These have been quarried from the side of the hilt near by and placed in position by means of a pulley attached to a stout overhead cable. The face of the weir is in the form of a series of steps, each rather more than a foot high, so that the overflow causes a rather picturesque cascade. This is all the more attractive because of the complete absence from the environs of the lake of those features which are sought by an eye trained to look out for scenic beauties. Nevertheless, in fine weather such as we experienced, the place in spite of its bareness, is not without charm. But one can readily picture how, in wet weather, one’s thoughts would naturally go back to the old name the - Dismal Swamp.  -Otago Daily Times, 17/4/1926.

First view of Lake Onslow from the Roxburgh side.

Roxburgh News 
The board at its last meeting decided to have inscribed on a panel to be placed in the power station, a brief record of the different stages and dates since the district was constituted, and up to the switching on of the new machine. A suggestion was also made and will be given effect to, by which the various mining concerns which were intimately associated with the inception development of electric power for the district, will be perpetuated for all time. No. 1 machine will be named the Ladysmith, since it was the water rights and mining plant of the Ladysmith Gold Mining Company, purchased by the Provisional Committee, that gave the scheme to supply electricity to the district a start and made possible the splendid service which it enjoys to-day. No. 2 machine will be named the Amalgamated, the Roxburgh Amalgamated Company's rights and plant being the second purchase of the Provisional Committea, enabling it to enlarge upon its original proposal and serve a bigger area. No. 3 machine, the one now in course of erection, will be named Ewing, after the late Mr John Ewing, whose enterprise as manager of the Teviot Molyneux Mining Company, secured for the district an asset which, in addition to providing an important irrigation system, has placed the power board in a position enjoyed by no other local body in the Dominion that of an assured water supply of 26 heads delivered at the power house for all time. These names will be inscribed on the machines and will serve to associate for all time the mining industry with the district's electrical scheme.  -Otago Daily Times, 6/9/1926.

Teviot Power House, interior of switching station.  Roxburgh Museum photo, C/o Hocken Library.

Maniototo News


As Maniototo is rather devoid of any outstanding attractions from a tourist point of view a proposal is on foot to complete the road from the end of the Paerau Settlement on to Lake Onslow with an ultimate view of bringing Roxburgh within about 60 miles of the centre of Maniototo. This road will also make the top end of the Manorburn Dam accessible to motorists who are in search of good fishing. It is understood that those in support of the above proposal intend including the pass road in the general scheme of improving the attractiveness of Maniototo from a tourist point of view and further providing useful shortcuts to the north and south for settlers of this district.  -Alexandra Herald, 13/3/1929.

To The Editor.)
Sir, — There was a run on torch batteries in the town last week which accounted for the flare in the sky over the Teviot bridge in the early hours of the morning of the 1st. Some of the Anglers were about in the very early hours, and to judge by the torch light up and down the river there must have been a great demand for the garden fly. What has come over our Anglers' Club? If it is their intention to assist anglers and to have the streams properly stocked in the district it is about time that they got going. There is a nice dam on the east side of the river, but it is full up of weed, and a few pounds would clear it and it would be the means of giving the young anglers in the town a better chance to catch a few trout. We have one of the finest lakes in the Dominion  Lake Onslow  within two hours’ travel and it well stocked with trout. Is it not possible for the anglers in the district to club together and get a boat for this lake? It was mentioned to me the other day that if the Anglers’ Club did not wake up and do something, that there was a likelihood of the anglers on the east side of the river clubbing together and forming a separate club with a view to assisting the anglers in the district.
— I am, etc, A WOULD BE ANGLER.  -Mt Benger Mail, 9/10/1929.
Abandoned tractor near the top of Mt Benger - was it a road builder?

(To the Editor.) 
Sir, — “What has become of our local Angling Club; it is time they woke up.” So says “Would-be Angler.” Your correspondent is very easy to answer. The Boy Scouts’ motto is to do one good turn each day. “Would-be Angler” hastens to do his good turn by firing the balls one has placed in his hands. These often rebound and strike the thrower. A good sportsman always examines ammunition before he shoots and if he fails to hit the mark blames himself and not the cartridges. Lake Onslow (Dismal Swamp more appropriate) you quote as being the finest lake in the Dominion. This is not the opinion of one with an eye for beauty. You ask is it not possible to put a boat on Lake Onslow? Yes, this is possible if “Would-be Angler could devise some ways and means of keeping that section of the road over Mt. Teviot in a safe and passable order to enable boat-owners to visit Lake Onslow more frequently, as it has been proved in the past that padlocks and chains are no safeguard to one's chattels on no man’s laud. Our local club has liberated 84,000 fry during the past four years (1925-29), spent £l8 17s 2d in overhauling the present boat, and in the following year £l0 3s 8d in making the hut more comfortable for fishermen. I merely mention this to show that we are awake, and not to wake up as you suggest. You might say you did not know all this. History repeats itself. Take any animal that lives in the dark; all it ever learns is to grunt. I say this more in sorrow than in anger. However, my friend, send me your name and address, and I will be pleased to post you a notice of our next meeting. We will be even pleased to meet you. Your presence, sub, and hearty co-operation may go a long way to help our cause —
I am, etc., SECRETARY, T. ANGLING CLUB.  -Mt Benger Mail, 16/10/1929.

(To the Editor.)
Sir, — I do not know who the person is who wrote a letter in your last issue signing himself "Secretary T. Angling Club." I would be pleased to know more about the Teviot Club before I would join it. I understand that the said club had an annual meeting some time ago. Why did they not publish the result of the meeting. If the club seeks to induce young anglers to join the club they ought to give a full account of their doings, and their intentions for the coming season. I require more than sarcasm for inducement. I quoted Lake Onslow as being one of the finest lakes "for trout". I understand that it is well stocked, and as there are good spawn beds I should think that no fry would be required there. As far as he repairs to boat at the Lake is concerned I am told that it was a waste of money. Two planks put in the bottom of the boat and a coating of tar I am sure did not cost £l8 17s 2d. The boat, I understand, was put there by the Acclimatisation Society some years ago. And when your club took over the boat why did spend that amount of money on it and allow it to lie in the water all the time since to rot. This shows that the Angling Club members are not capable of looking after the property of the Society when they allow this sort of thing to go on. I am still of the opinion that the club want to wake up. I am only a young hand at the game and want to get all the information possible and trust that the secretary will put his cards on the table. Otherwise there will be another club formed in the district which will show the present club how to do things. — I am, etc.,
WOULD-BE ANGLER  -Mt Benger Mail, 23/10/1929.

Tuapeka County Council
The clerk Maniototo County Council wrote asking if the Tuapeka County would join the Maniototo County in forming road from Lake Onslow connecting with the Linnburn Runs road, Serpentine, a distance of 14 miles, eight miles of which were in the Tuapeka County. The writer estimated that their grader could form the whole of the road in about three weeks. The formation of this road would, it was pointed out, be of great benefit to Maniototo residents going to Invercargill, also for travelling stock. Mr Macdonald said he did not think they could consider the matter under present conditions though he thought later it should be undertaken.  — It was decided to inform the Maniototo County that the time is not opportune to undertake this work.  -Mt Benger Mail, 17/12/1930.

(From Our Parliamentary Reporter.) WELLINGTON, March 9. According to advice received by Mr Bodkin to-day from the Minister of Public Works (Mr J. G. Coates) Cabinet has approved of the raising of the dam at Lake Onslow. In an interview, Mr Bodkin explained that the dam conserved water for the development of the power plant at Teviot, and provided for the irrigation of Roxburgh East and Miller’s Flat. On account of the particularly dry season the available supplies of water had been found totally inadequate for irrigation, and the department had, therefore, been authorised to raise the wall of the dam. The district engineer at Dunedin (Mr T. M. Ball) has been instructed to carry out the work forthwith, and Mr Bodkin said he was sure it would prove a great boon for the people of Roxburgh and Miller’s Flat districts, and would ensure a permanent water supply in that area.  -Otago Daily Times, 10/3/1933;

The engineer reported that he had inspected the Board's plant on May 2 and had found the equipment in good order; that the weather having broken there was now no fear of a water shortage, that the adding of 3ft to the dam at Lake Onslow had been completed and storage capacity had been greatly increased and should suffice for future dry seasons unless the demand for irrigation water was greatly increased. The load this year, he said, showed signs of an increase at a much earlier date than last year, indicating that a higher peak may be expected and although the Otago Central Board was warned two years ago that it might be necessary to cut down their peak load this so far had not been necessary.  -Mt Benger Mail, 24/5/1933.

Maniototo County 
Meeting (excerpt)
The Deep Creek road extension was completed by hire of County plant as far as Maniototo runholders' boundary at a point approximately three-quarters of a mile (direct) distant from Lake Onslow. The work included a paved crossing over the swamp near the boundary. A brushed summer track direct to the end of the Lake of this three-quarter mile would not be practicable and the nearest reasonable access would mean a further 1 1/2 miles of grading and a branch track of one mile to the Lake.The total distance to link up with the Tuapeka County roads at the dam wall is 3 1/2 miles of fairly good going and containing three small obstacles; viz. l 1/2 chains of swampy ground, one 8ft. culvert and a stoned up crossing at Enterprise Creek — an approximate expenditure of £40 in addition to £25 grading of summer track, making a total expenditure of £65 to link up. After the necessary work in linking up German Jack's and Serpentine, the return grading will include Manson's — Blackball section of Linburn Buns road and preparation for gravelling on Paerau Runs road.   -Alexandra Herald, 14/3/1934.
The Deep Creek extension, looking down towards the ford at the North Branch of the Teviot..
 [From Our Lawrence Correspondent.] The above-named body met at Lawrence on Friday afternoon, all the members being in attendance, with Cr George in the chair. 
The County Treasurer (Mr K. T. Batchelor) reported that the receipts since last meeting amounted to L2,362 4s 9d and the expenditure to £3,325 0s 6d, leaving a credit balance at the bank of £576 11s 5d.
The County Engineer (Mr F. D. Grant) reported that the plans prepared for the Lake Onslow bridge over the Teviot River in order to take up the Government grant had been returned approved by the Public Works Department and authority received.   -Evening Star, 15/1/1935.

 Anglers' Retreat
Hidden in the hills on the northern Side of the Clutha Valley is a small lake — actually a dam originally built to supply water for gold-mining purposes — which is regarded by the few local sportsmen who use it as more or less their own private property. One of these actually stocked the dam many years ago with rainbow, and he now claims that it holds some sizeable fish. A Dunedin party, thwarted by snowdrifts from getting into Lake Onslow recently, was led over seemingly endless paddocks on a track which threaded between tussocks, through numerous gates, until eventually the dam was seen, nestling in a deep valley. A beautiful sheet of water, it looked as though it must hold plenty of voracious trout. Perhaps it does, but so far as the half-dozen anglers who threshed it that day were concerned, it was as troutless as Stephen Leacock’s famous trout lake. Some day, those anglers may again wind their tortuous way in low gear to the dam, for hope springs readily in the angler’s breast, and anyway the scenery alone is worth a second visit.   -Otago Daily Times, 9/11/1939.

On Friday last whilst fishing at Lake Onslow with a worm Mrs Aburn, of Dunedin, hooked a very large trout. She played the fish for some considerable time and as her net was of the very small type she called upon Mr N. Campbell to assist her. Numerous local fishermen have been eyeing the catch with envious eyes at the Commercial Hotel and well they might. The fish weighed 9 1/2lbs.  -Mt Benger Mail, 6/3/1940.
Recently constructed replacement dam at Lake Onslow - 1982.

No comments:

Post a Comment