Topic: Arthur's Pass

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Surveyor Arthur Dobson, and his brothers George and Edward, explored the Pass which links East and West coast between the Bealey and Otira rivers.

In 1863 gold was found on the West Coast. 

In February 1864 the surveyor Arthur Dobson and his brother, Edward, set out in search of a new route to the West Coast. They rode up the Waimakariri River and, on reaching the Bealey Valley, followed this to its head and then down the Rolleston River.

In 1865, after a fruitless search for a better route by George Dobson,  Arthur's father, Edward Dobson senior, the Canterbury Provincial Engineer, decided a road would have to be cut through Arthur's Pass. It was George's report which spoke of Arthur's Pass as the most suitable which gave the Pass it's name.

The route ran over Porters Pass, through to Cass, and along the Waimakariri to Bealey, then went over the newly named Arthur's Pass. The road was completed in 1866 after work through a bitter winter by over 1,000 men using explosives, hand tools and  rock drills. A Stage Coach service was started by William Cawley although the journey from Christchurch to Hokitika took at least 36 hours in good weather and longer in bad weather.Obviously a railway link was necessary and from 1907 onwards work proceded slowly as railway lines inched forward from east and west coasts until the eventual opening in 1923.

The first town near Arthur's Pass was named Klondyke Corner and sat between the Bealey and Waimakariri Rivers. By 1865  about 100 people camped there and sections were surveyed and a street plan laid out. However owing to the cold and frequently sunless nature of the site settlement instead shifted to a site on the southern side of the Waimakariri River.

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