On Saturday, 4 July 2015 all the coastal senior missionary couples serving in the South Africa Durban Mission rode on a special exhibition running of the Umgeni Steam Railway. The "Wesley" locomotive was built in Berlin, Germany in 1938 and the coaches on the train were built between 1928 and 1952, although even older vehicles, dating back to 1908, are sometimes used.
The train runs through the picturesque Valley of a Thousand Hills between Kloof and Inchanga on the last Sunday of each month, with occasional additional trains during school holidays and for special events. The train largely follows the route of the original Natal government Railway Main Line from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, which was opened in December 1880. Even today the line is considered something of an engineering feat (and an operational challenge!) due to the tortuous topography it has to traverse, abounding in 1 to 30 gradients with many curves nearly 300 feet in radius. Major engineering challenges along the way include a pass with almost sheer cliffs, a short tunnel, and a spectacular cast iron viaduct. Historically, it was said that the notorious viaduct apparently swayed so badly in the wind that passengers were requested to alight and walk ahead of the train during inclement weather!
On this special run of the Umgeni Steam Railway, numerous vintage cars from an earlier era ran beside the train on the adjacent highway. Spectators gathered along the journey to cheer on both the vintage cars and their treasured steam railway.
Elder and Sister Nielsen can be seen peeking out one of the left windows of the coach. It made for a fabulous way to celebrate the 4th of July on the other side of the world, while serving in South Africa.