On Saturday, June 28, 1890 the NSW Secretary for Public Works Bruce Smith turned the first sod marking the beginning of the Yass rail connection to the main train line to Sydney.
There was great ceremony with many members of Parliament and much of the population of Yass present to witness the event.
It was reported that one person had described it as ‘the most important ceremony since Hamilton Hume first discovered these flats’.
A silver spade was specially made for the occasion indicating the importance of the rail link to the people of Yass.
This contrasted with July 3, 1876 when the the first train from Sydney passed through the Yass Station some five kilometres outside Yass town.
Not one person came to celebrate as a way of expressing their disgust at the decision to bypass Yass town rather than construct a route through north Yass with a station there.
Lobbying secures train line
It had been an ongoing dispute between the government and many advocates for the train route to pass through the town.
It seemed the bypass was based on engineering issues and the cost of two bridges across the Yass River.
This meant that goods and passengers had to travel by horse and cart or walk to get to the trainline.
And so the lobbying continued for the next fourteen years until that Saturday in 1890.
It was a testament to the efforts and determination of local people and their supporters gaining a rail connection from the town to the main rail line.
Ceremony for opening
On Wednesday, April 21, 1892 the new rail link from Yass Junction to Yass Town was opened with great ceremony.
The Governor, Lord Jersey performed the official opening breaking a bottle of champagne over the the locomotive.
According to newspaper reports, he congratulated the locals on successfully overcoming difficult obstacles; namely the Minister for Works and the Public Works Committee! Celebrations included a banquet at the skating rink, and a ball at the Mechanics Institute that evening hosted by Yass Mayor Michael Coen.
The ceremonial silver spade is in the Yass museum, a testament to work and determination of the Yass people of the time.