“Conquering Cascade” brings to light a little-known chapter in the history of West Coast coal mining. Cascade Creek, rugged and precipitous in places, harboured a seam of some of the best coal in New Zealand, its ‘black gold’ well known but its extraction delayed by forbidding access and tempestuous climate.
The story of the Cascade Westport Coal Company and its workforce is one of courage and audacity that included a wooden flume to carry coal down to storage bins in the Buller Gorge, from which it was railed to port in Westport. At over 12 kilometres long this coal flume was not only the longest such structure ever built in New Zealand, it also confounded the naysayers who said it couldn’t be done.
Following a decade of research, interviews and gathering rare material, author Phil Walsh has documented an epic saga in New Zealand’s industrial coal mining heritage.