The wonderful story of the Uganda Railway
A BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION CAMP ON THE UGANDA RAILWAY.
PUSHING out of Nairobi, the line continues to ascend until, after threading a dense forest, it comes apparently to the edge of a towering cliff, the Kikuyu Escarpment, at an elevation of 7,830 feet. Standing on the edge of the precipice, one gazes upon a wonderful panorama -
This was the first real technical difficulty which was encountered so far as actual building was concerned, and the discovery of a method of taking the line down the cliff-
The engineers plotted and plodded the whole cliff from summit to base, and at last a means of overcoming it was discovered. The proposal was to carry the line down gently along a grade hewn out of the face of the precipice in order to gain a point 450 feet below. It involved a tortuous location, so that the descent might be worked by adhesion. But it was accomplished. The builders cut their way out of the cliff, hewing a shelf just wide enough to carry the track and no more, and describing marvellous twists and turns. The subjugation of this escarpment constitutes one of the finest illustrations in railway engineering skill that Africa can offer, and it becomes more striking when it is remembered that it is worked by adhesion without the introduction of switchbacks, V-
MAP OF THE UGANDA RAILWAY.
After gaining the floor of the rift, another ascent commences through the Masai country. “For every mile of rails laid through the country of the Masai you will sacrifice the life of a white man.” Such was the dictum of an eminent statesman who criticised the idea of building the Uganda Railway. It was not an idle warning by any means, because the Masai at that time were one of the most warlike African races, with their hand raised against every man and every man's hand raised against them. But the white engineers went ahead, despite the lugubrious prophecy, and, so far as they were concerned, they disproved it, because insignificant opposition was offered to their advance. The Masai regarded the steam engine with a kind of awe and extreme curiosity. No doubt they were impressed by the railway builders’ determination to thread their country at all hazards. To-
After passing the station of Elburgon, 474 miles from the coast and 6,820 feet above sea-
THE HEAVY 0-
The waters of Lake Nyanza are reached at Port Florence, where a prosperous town has grown around the terminus. By the Uganda line the fresh and salt waters are brought within 584 miles of each other. The port, at an elevation of 3,650 feet, has a healthy situation, and is developing rapidly, owing to the growth of the steamship traffic upon the lake. These vessels, built in Great Britain, were shipped in pieces to the shores of this inland sea, where a shipyard was extemporised to permit of the reassembling of the parts. The first vessel was commissioned before the railway was built, and the sections had to be transported overland -
By the time the shores of the Lake Nyanza were linked by rail to the seaboard £5,500,000 had been expended. Only about half of this amount, however, went into actual work, the other half practically being spent upon freight. By the time the various materials were landed at Mombasa they had doubled in value.
As may be recognised from the fact that the line has to climb to an altitude of 8,350 feet in the 491 miles out of Mombasa, westbound traffic -
PANORAMA OF PORT FLORENCE, the up-
The locomotive has an over-
From the financial point of view the railway has proved a unique success. Rates are comparatively low, the third class passenger being carried for less than ½d. per mile, while goods are carried at about 2d. per ton-
A BIG LOOP ON THE UGANDA RAILWAY to overcome a sudden steep ascent.
[From Part 17 of Railway Wonders of the World by Frederick A. Talbot]