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Whereis > SA > Cockburn

Map of Cockburn, SA 5440

Cockburn ( KOH-bərn) is a town and locality in the east of the Australian state of South Australia immediately adjacent to the border with New South Wales near Broken Hill. It was established because the New South Wales government refused to allow locomotives of the South Australian Railways to operate in its jurisdiction, requiring locomotives to be changed at the town for 84 years until 1970, when the route was converted from 1067 mm (3 ft 6 in) to 1435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge.

Huge ore deposits were discovered in Silverton, which in 1884 prompted the government of South Australia to offer to the Government of New South Wales the building of a narrow gauge railway line from the limit of its jurisdiction at the border to Silverton, since horse-drawn drays over rough tracks could not meet the transport task for the journey to Port Pirie. This offer was rejected by the New South Wales government. In response, investors formed the Silverton Tramway Company in 1885 to build the railway line from Silverton to the border. The town of Cockburn came into existence in 1886 on the South Australia side of the border as a place for trains to exchange locomotives and crews. On the New South Wales side of the border, the Silverton Tramway Company built a station and sidings, called Burns.

Pressure for the expansion of Cockburn was increased with mineral discoveries at Thackaringa and Umberumberka from 1883 onwards. The silver-lead-zinc discovery at Broken Hill led to the railway line being extended from Silverton to Broken Hill in 1887.

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