Story: Economic history

Main trunk line

Main trunk line

This watercolour of the rail line at Washdyke in South Canterbury was painted by Eliot Whatley in 1874. The placement of the line in the centre of the image emphasises how important the railway was to people in the 1870s. It was seen as essential to opening up rural areas and connecting them to international markets. Julius Vogel, colonial treasurer, borrowed heavily to invest in transport improvements and immigration, in the hope that this would bring growth to New Zealand. The main trunk line between Christchurch and Invercargill was completed in 1879. Railways were more important in the South Island, roads in the north.

Using this item

National Library of Australia
Watercolour by Eliot Whatley

Permission of the National Library of Australia must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Brian Easton, 'Economic history - Boom and bust, 1870–1895', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 May 2022)

Story by Brian Easton, published 11 Mar 2010