181103-How I Roll

After my stroll about village yesterday, I knew nothing opened in Featherston until 10:00 am. A good thing too – I slept horribly with the winds repeatedly waking me. Heavy winds and rains kept me pinned down until 11:00 am.

This quaint town of less than 2,500 people includes a lot of history. The Fell Locomotive Museum houses the only Fell engine in the world, once used on the old Rimutaka Railway, where its extra traction (using a center rail line) was designed to cope with the steep incline. Rail lines normally have a gradient of less than 2%; the gradient for the Rimutaka is 6.7%! Leave it to me to find one of the steepest rail lines in the world on this side of the mountain. And plan to cycle it the wrong way. With a head wind.

Local rail enthusiasts curate this small museum, and their passion showed. I had my own personal docent, who provided local history and detail on the engine, every piece of track, and each individual photo (all in context of me cycling it tomorrow) before turning me over to the 17-minute video.

Visiting the adjacent local history museum I learned about the WW I military training camp, formerly housing over 8,000 men. The camp became a Japanese internment camps for WW II with an unfortunate massacre after a riot of Japanese POWs.

The town has a strong literary theme hosting many bookish events and festivals, explaining all the used book stores. The Royal Hotel even renovated last year to a steampunk theme. I saw two people dressed from Steampunk at the rail exhibit.

Winds and rain still howl outside. The forecast tomorrow calls for winds but no rain, so on to the Rimutaka Cycle Path. Today I learned winds of almost 200 mph once blew a train there off the tracks! That can’t go wrong.


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