Re: Horse line

John Browning

"Horse lines" seem to have been a particular feature of Homebush (later Racecourse) Mill in the Homebush area near Mackay. They were permanent lines of light track that enabled farmers to move trucks over fair distances  and could be linked with the temporary portable lines that were laid into the harvesting paddocks. The mill would be responsible for delivering/collecting trucks to/from the commencement of the horse line and beyond that the responsibility would lie with the farmer. During the 1980s, some of these lines were being removed and this revealed that original 1880s Decauville track materials had been used in construction of at least some, including their distinctive point levers. This suggests that the lines had originally been laid by CSR. As far as I know some of these horse lines may still exist in the area, worked by farmers using tractors. There have been several home-built locomotives used on such lines at various mills, but details are understandably very sketchy.

Similar lines were also laid in many mill areas to enable farmers to bring cane to be loaded onto QR wagons at sidings using derricks. A few were laid by mills and some of these were locomotive-worked. Others were built by individual farmers, or groups of farmers.

As has been pointed out, at a number of mills today there are locomotive lines called "horse lines". These have been upgraded for locomotives at some point but have still retained their names.


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