Sheep Railed To Safety


In 1959 the South African Railways undertook a giant rail-lift to assist farmers in the drought stricken Karoo.  According to the magazine Commercial Transport officials said it was without precedent in South Africa.  More than a quarter of a million sheep were ferried to pastures in the Free State and Transvaal and four special trains daily carried 6 000 sheep to safety. The area on which the Railways concentrated ewas between Hutchinson and Calvinia – a rail distance of about 250 miles. At that time this was one of the worst-hit areas and of the Karoo and the Railwy regarded  it in the national interest to move the stock as quickly and efficiently as possible.  About 120 cattle trucks and five additional locomotives were pressed into service to loaded and rush the stock northwards.  These trucks regularly trundled northwards fully laden and returned empty each day.


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