By the 1870s it was clear that Wellington’s future as a trading centre rested on farming. In 1878 a government-sponsored railway line was completed to Wairarapa, but a government scheme to build a railway to Manawatū stalled due to rising costs. Several Wellington businessmen took over the project, which was completed in 1886. This 1885 plan, drawn by the railway’s promoters, shows the route. The line required the construction of several tunnels and one of New Zealand’s largest wooden viaducts, the Belmont viaduct near Johnsonville.
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