Lapstone Zig Zag, Glenbrook

#6 of 6 in Things to do in Glenbrook
The Lapstone Zig Zag was a zig zag railway built near Lapstone on the Great Western Railway of New South Wales in Australia between 1863 and 1865, to overcome an otherwise insurmountable climb up the eastern side of the Blue Mountains. The ruling grade was already very steep at 1 in 33 (3%). Another of the early plans had been to build the whole line across the Blue Mountains on a completely different route through the Grose Valley with a 3 km long tunnel, but this was beyond the resources of the colony of New South Wales at the time. The track included a now abandoned station called Lucasville which was built for the Minister for Mines, John Lucas who had a holiday home nearby.HistoryNineteenth centuryThe rail route across the mountains extended as far as Wentworth Falls (then called "Weatherboard") by 1867 but the Lapstone Zig Zag, which included Lucasville station, soon ran into problems: the length of the top points and bottom points limited the length of trains and the single track meant that trains travelling in opposite directions had to stop at crossing points. The first crossing point after Lapstone Zig Zag was at Wascoe's Siding at what is now Glenbrook. The single track would contribute to a fatal accident at Emu Plains in 1878 where eastbound and westbound goods trains collided. A deviation including a tunnel was built around 1890 to replace the zig zag, but it too experienced problems as it was built at the same too steep a grade causing the locomotives to slip, and smoke became a problem for uphill trains. The building of the tunnel is the subject of Arthur Streeton's famous painting Fire's On.
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Lapstone Zig Zag Reviews
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  • The historical stone bridge would be of interest to civil engineers and others interested in historical structures. The trail is close to two highways and a railway corridor so it is noisy. Litter fro...  more »
  • We wanted to go for a hike at the Knapsack reserve. It was hot, but we were determined. We met but one person. We thought we would see some animals. We ended at the Knapsack Bridge. we explores it qui...  more »
  • This is a nice walk with a bit of history thrown in. Park up at the end of knapsack street then walk down the old cutting. You can still see where they drilled down and put in the dynamite. Then through the old station and down the zig zag stairs to get to the viaduct. The oldest stone bridge in mainland Australia. You can see where they widened the bridge to turn it from a rail bridge into a road bridge. After that, have a nice walk down the path and maybe a picnic under a tree and finally walk back to the car. We did it with 3 small kids in about 2 hours.
  • Starting at the end of Knapsack Street (limited parking) you’ll explore along a small section of the old Lapstone Zig Zag railway, the walk takes you along the old rail line, this section is an easy level walk, passing through sandstone cuttings and the old train station until you reach the end and view to the Knapsack Viaduct (Sandstone Bridge). You can continue on down into the valley, onto the bridge and beyond however there are steep stairs involved. Better signage throughout is needed as there are a few offshoot tracks that don’t indicate clearly where you’ll end up. At the time I went through there were several notices about water quality, only a real concern for dog walkers.

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