Sue City – the downfall of auto-generated website content

I was perusing a map of the Snowy Mountains the other day, and located on the shores of the Tumut River I stumbled upon a rather interesting township name – Sue City. During my recent trip to the Snowy Mountains I drove past the site, which is now known as O’Hares Rest Area, but had no other leads to follow. My first stop in the search to find out more was Google, which turned up the following results.

Google search results for "Sue City, NSW"

All but one website of these search results was for some form of “cookie cutter” website – dedicated to some kind of theme, the website owners import a list of Australian postcodes and localities to their content management system, and out comes a webpage for each entry. So lets take a look at each website in more detail:

  • ExplorOz: an atlas style website. Page content includes nearby towns, a map, weather and climate charts, and a large number of fields asking for user generated content.
  • Bonzle: another atlas style website, just like ExplorOz but in a different order.
  • okTravel: rephrased extracts of census data, and not much else.
  • Plan Book Travel: a travel website, but their only content is a map.
  • NSW Water Information: a NSW government website detailing the availability of water quality data. This is the first “real” content found so far.
  • Care for Kids: a search engine for childcare providers, it displays results for the town of Cooma, which is over 100 km drive away!
  • Another link for Care for Kids: this time for vacation care.
  • FarmGuide: a business directory, listing a random selection of businesses located in nearby towns.
  • A second FarmGuide link: with the same listings as their first page, but at a different URL.
  • Commercial Real Estate: a real estate website, but with no properties in Sue City, it instead displays random listings from around NSW.

So why did the township of Sue City just disappear? The next page of links things got more useful, bringing up this auction listing for a 1959 Sue City postmark – once upon a time they had a post office.

1959 postmark from Sue City post office

A look at the Picture Australia was more fruitful, turning up a number of photos of Sue City from the National Archives. First off is an aerial view, showing a line of houses nestled in the river valley, with a road winding up the steep hillside.

The next two photos show a collection of timber houses lining dirt roads, underneath gum trees.

The photo captions have this to say:

Construction of Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme – Sue City housing, Tumut 2 contractors township
Date: 1959

Eureka!

A major component of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, work started on the Tumut 2 hydroelectric power station in 1959. Located inside a massive cavern 224 metres below ground level, the energy of falling water is used to spin turbines, which then turn generators to produce electricity. Water is brought from the dam at Tumut 2 Pondage to the turbines via a long tunnel through the mountain, and is returned to the Tumut River by the tailrace tunnel.

The township of Sue City housed the power station construction workers and their families at the Tumut River outlet of the tailrace tunnel, while the main Tumut 2 power station entrance was located about 5 kilometres down the road.

Entry to the Tumut 2 underground hydroelectric power station

On completion of the power station in 1962 there was no use for the township, so the buildings were carted away, leaving a piece of flat ground by the banks of the Tumut River, and a collection of useless websites mentioning the name Sue City.

2018 update

Michael Coppedge has forwarded me some more photos – a 1958 view from the west back of the Tumut River down to Sue City from the road to Cabramurra.

A 1961 view from the east bank, looking over the Tumut River railway bridge towards O’Hare’s Camp, now the campground.

And the Sue City Public School badge.

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40 Responses to “Sue City – the downfall of auto-generated website content”

  1. Adrian says:

    You’d love visiting Bogong Village!
    You can hire one of the original houses too, great place to stay.

    If they haven’t demolished it, can check out the ruins of the original school house.

  2. Alice Boyde says:

    As a very small child I lived in Sue City while my father, George Boyde worked as an electrician on the Tulmut tunnel and power stations. He has also worked on the Adaminaby Dam.
    I remember starting school, going to the movie theatre to see Mickey Mouse, the parrots or birds we watched the young American boys trying to trap and playing Cowboys abd Indians.
    Thank you for the article and the photos; have enjoyed reflecting and tripping down memory lane.

    • Marcus says:

      Hi Alice,
      I’m glad that my post brought back some memories for you!

    • Clifford Goodson says:

      My father was hired by Kaiser and he ran one of the shifts digging the tunnel. We were there from 58-61 and my sister and I went to school there also. Mr Webb was the teachers name I think. And yes I was one of the American boys catching parrots. We sold a few but mostly just some thing to do. Remember our rare trips to Comma and how big of a deal that was…the big city.

  3. […] Having previous dealt with the perils of auto-generated website content in my post about the former township of ‘Sue City’, my recent random Google Maps wanderings around the greater Sydney area have found another […]

  4. Dave Ironside says:

    Thanks for the pics. Remember going to the site of Sue City in the late 70’s as a kid on day trips from Batlow – swimming in the freezing river which would suddenly rise if water was released from the T2 pondage. At that stage the foundations of the old houses were still visible and a number of exotic garden plants (mainly roses) were still growing in what would’ve been people’s gardens. A fantastic place. I remember thinking – as an 8 year old boy – that this would have been my ideal place to live had it still been a going community.

  5. Michael Coppedge says:

    I lived in Sue City from 1958 to 1961, dad was master mechanic on the project. Had great fun those years, I was one of those young American boys trapping parrots, playing cowboys and indians and exploring the countryside.

    Michael

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Given the origins of the workers on the Snowy Mountain Scheme, there would have been residents from all around the world:

      http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/newaustralia/the-workers/

      • Chris says:

        My father in law Steven Meszaros tells a story of how he was tasked with demolishing workers buildings near pumping station 2 but instead he moved them to a village close to Canberra. Not sure which one but I keep thinking it was near molonglo or Uriarra. He said he moved 23 homes so I am guessing it was Sue City. Maybe some one remembers Steve.

    • Janice Jobe Edwards says:

      Don, I was also 8 in Sue City. We spent 18 months there. I was awarded 3rd girl in the 3rd grade (not very remarkable). I have a picture of myself being awarded by the principal and still have the book somewhere, Picaninny Walabout. I’d love to hear from others to piece together memories.

      Janice

  6. Lawrie says:

    Sue City, an American construction village on the Snowy Mountain Scheme, was named after Edgar Kaisers daughter, and is reputed to be where the first supermarket in Australia was established in 1957, ( The Snowy : The People Behind the Power, p. 199).

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Thanks for that – Edgar Kaiser was the head of Kaiser Engineers who built the Tumut 2 power station and dam. Just one nitpick – other sources say Sue Kaiser was Edgar’s wife, not daughter:

      http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=59563330

      • Kbessw says:

        Hi Marcus,

        You are right that Sue was Edgar Kaiser’s wife. I lived in Sue City about 1957-1960. My mom is Sue and Edgar’s daughter and our family moved there from the states because my dad was working on the project. Thanks for sharing the info on Sue City. I had googled it to see if there was anything about Sue City online and your article was the only thing of interest I found.

        • Janice Jobe Edwards says:

          My father was Jerry K Jobe, who worked for Kaiser Engineers as a Carpenter Superintendent on the Sue City Project. We lived next door to the Waleys. Are you a Waley? If so we played together. I was 7 and in 3rd grade. My sister, Gyla, was 5 and in 1st grade. My brother Jerry was born while we were there and was a baby when we lived next door to Kaiser’s daughter and her husband. If you see this I’d love to hear from you.

          Janice

          P.S. othernames from the “states” were George Bender, Clifton, Mrs Murry (who taught tap dance I think).

          • Alan Scheckenbach says:

            My father, Eddie Scheckenbach was head-foreman carpenter for T2 power-station and the tailrace tunnel. He had previously been head-foreman carpenter on Tumut Pond dam (amongst other jobs). He and his crews created all the heavy formwork for the concrete pours that created the structures we see today. Sue City was his first married quarters where a number of parties were held.
            George Bender is a name my father mentioned often and with some affection, when talking about the Snowy scheme.
            Can anyone tell me more about George Bender?

        • Janice Jobe Edwards says:

          Dear Kbessw,

          Doesthe W stand for Whaley? We lived next door to Kaiser’s daughter. Our mom visited with her regularly over coffee or tea. When we returned to the states she invited us to have dinner at Edgar’s Home in Oakland. I remember getting shown around by a girl around my age (9 ish) and being in awe of the huge kitchen and all the rooms and hallways.
          I remember the Whaley children having white hair, very pale blonde. We’re you one of them? I need to post some of my pictures.
          My email is [email protected].
          I’m on Facebook asJanice Jobe Edwards, if anybody wants to Contact me about Sue City.

  7. Bob Piper says:

    Fascinating story. Have visited by trail bike and car. From the top the scent is down, down, down.

    In the 1930s an old fellow called Con Donohue lived there and had a small market garden, hut and a few horses. He use to ride thru to Ravine/Lobbs Hole and do his banking there. Later when the Post Office closed there he rode to Kiandra. Extra 12 miles.

    There should be a few articles on him on Google with a photo. We are getting him published.

    Does anybody know about the two foot rail line at Sue City. Bob Piper. Canberra. [email protected]

  8. Dave'n'Bron says:

    We went in search of information for Sue City and found a book at Cabramurra called Homes On The Range by Frank Rodwell – but not much else. We live in a house that supposedly came from Sue City (??Dr’s Surgery??)and were hoping to find some pictures of the houses to shed light on its history but it seems that the town and it’s past really have disappeared.

  9. Andrew says:

    Thanks for compiling this info. I was searching for ‘Sue City’ to Show my father as it’s a great road to drive when heading over the top of the Snowys… and you have s photo of it! Thanks.

  10. Don says:

    I too lived at Sue City from late 1957 -1961. Was a great place for an 8 year old with a very modern school and truly the 1st supermarket run by an American conglomerate. The photo with the ute and beetle shows the school at the bottom of hill. Charlie Wedd was the principal with his wife Mary. the site is largely flooded with waters behind Talbingo Dam. Don

  11. Jim Stephen says:

    Hi Marcus,
    Thank you for your blog. My family lived in Sue City from 1958 to 1961. My father was a civil engineer. The family has many 8×10 glossy black and white photos of the tunnel construction, turbines, etc. I’ll look for photos of our house. We left when I was 5. I remember a boy of my age drowning in the river which flowed at the bottom of our garden. I remember the name of the school principal Mr Wedd. I hope to get to the old town site.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Any scans of the photos you would be able to share would be much appreciated.

    • Janice Jobe Edwards says:

      Jim, I remember the tragedy of the boy who was drowned, and the chainlink fence that was put up along a stretch of the river, because the river was pretty close to the back of the school house. I remember the bell ringing in the morning calling the children to school, because our house was right across the street from it. My father and his crew (carpenters) did much of the housing construction.

      Janice

  12. Brett Allen says:

    Ive been fishing sue city for 25 years. Does anyone have any images of the township theyd share? I love reading about the history of the place.

  13. I also lived there 1958 to 1961, my father worked in the tunnels and was hired by Kaiser. We lived across the road from the foot bridge. I remember the teacher Webb. If I remember right after 6th grade you had to go to boarding school in Comma I think. I was one of the American boys who caught parrots, we built forts and even dug a tunnel , which when found by the parents was destroyed because of safety.

    There were several families who all came from Oroville Ca who were tunnel people so I knew a few kids when we arrived. Many families came together on a ship out of San Francisco. I had my 10th birthday on the ship and we arrived in Sydney at the end of Oct. 1958.

    It was a difficult drive into Comma so we didn’t go very often but I was a big deal when we did.

    • Janice Jobe Edwards says:

      My dad was a carpenter foreman. They built the houses for everyone. I remember taking tab lessons from Mrs. Murray so we could put on a Christmas show. My dad sang in a quartet for the show.
      I have a picture of Mr. Webb handing me an award for “third girl”. I think it was the 3rd grade. After
      That we returned to the states.
      I had a friend named Richard who had really bad asthma. He was older than I.
      We’re the parrots cockatoo? I don’t remember parrots. I do remember the eerie song of the kookaburra, drives to the country to see the roo, smoked trout from the river, the coolest flavor of lifesavers that I’ve never seen since, a drive up into the mountains to play in the snow, and the school bell sounding. I lived across the street.
      It was 1958 to 1961. My brother was born in Canberra in 1959.

    • Tom Smith says:

      I lived in sue city & Cooma for 18 months. My father built the access roads & temporary bridges for the project. I was 16 at the time. Sue city did not have a school for the older students. Thus we stayed in Cooma in a barracks style atmosphere. Kaiser built this for us & outback students needing a place to stay. Most were from ranch farms farming sheep etc. As I played rugby football I often did not return home for several weeks at a time. Learned how to wash dry iron clothes. When in sue City baby sat Coppage boys& others. Plus hunting fishing saw kangaroos platypuses & parrots. Perry lived for 37 + years. Raised him on raw eggs w/ crackers. Miners from Oroville George Boone project Mngr the Blehms Okie , Bob , Berle. Audrian Weatheral. & many others. This group of men worked many tunnel jobs in the feather river canyon. Very Professional. To see what the country looked like see the movies the Sundowners with Robert Mitchum. Deborah Kerr. Also the man from Snowy Mountain. Many of my classmates were extras & glad for the money.

  14. Michael Coppedge says:

    Cliff – I was on the ship from SF, the SS Monterey, got into a lot of trouble on that crossing! My family, the Blehm family and the Wetheral family were from Oroville. We went back to Oroville then off to Invercargill New Zealand in 1966 for the Manapouri project.

    I’ve got a couple of photo’s I’ll try to submit.

    Mike

    • I remember the name Wetheral. Auld was his first name. And Okie Blehm gave me a penny once in the Ritz bar in Oroville and i threw it on the floor and said you can’t buy anything with a penny, he gave me a dime! I too was on the SS Monterey and also got into trouble, ran into the Captain and he was not happy with that. Send me an email [email protected] and we can share a few memories

    • Madeline says:

      Hi Michael, I was wondering if anyone remembers Mary Carr, my mother-in-law – a very wellspoken lady from Cork in Ireland. She drove the Govenor of NSW around Cooma and was also a cook. I also recall her talking about George Blehm when she spoke about her time there. Mary was from Ireland and had travelled over by boat to Sydney in late 1950’s. Mary passed away in 2008. Any info or photo’s you have around that time would be great. Thanks Madeleine.

  15. Peter Anderson says:

    Hi Marcus,
    Thanks for starting this thread.
    My family resided at Sue City till it closed down, I think in 1961.
    I remember being taken to and from Cabramurra School for the last few months we were still there as the Sue City School had closed. I was 8.

    My Dad, Ross, was previously emplyed in Newcastle as a safety office with BHP. Due to the high accident and death incident on the Scheme, Sir William Hudson encouraged Kaiser Walsh Perini Raymond to appoint a safety office.

    In 1956 were first based at small temporary village at the Eucumbene Eath Dam and then to Sue City.

    One of our favourite picnic spots was The Ravine on the Yarrangabilly River. Still one of my favourites but Snowy 2 may impact it somewhat.

    At Sue City we lived on the road up the hill and furthest from the
    Tumut River. I remember the night that poor boy went missing. All the adults were out all night searching for him. I could hear them from my bed calling his name. I have since been advised he was son of Mr Kerrison , the Ambulance Officers. So sad.

    The whole area must have had a huge impact on me. As an adult I would come back to go fly fishing, camping, hiking and snow skiing. It’s such a unique part of Australia. When I retired a few years ago I relocated to Cooma so we could access these areas more freely. We now live a quiet 60 acre block. We love it!!

    I remember playing cowboys and Indians and spending much time with an American boy who was, if not next door at Sue City, pretty close. One day we trapped a female Crimson Resella but unfortunately broke her beak, we stopped trapping them after that.

    I was too young to maintain friendships but it’s so nice we all have such strong memories. Best to all

  16. Graeme Hosken says:

    My father had a transport business in Adelong and I can remember going to Sue City when the school had not long closed. Looking through a window you could see all the chairs up on the tables. Dad would transport a few homes out of Sue City that had been purchased by people in or near Adelong. The old International struggled up that long rise with the load on. In later years we would go to a picnic site where the road crossed a creek that ran into the river at Sue City.
    Good memories!

  17. Janice Edwards says:

    Hi Alan Scheckenbach

    I used to play with George Bender’s son, Greg. He was one year behind me. I was 7 and 8 in Sue City. My mom, Toni Jobe, wrote letters to them for many years. Unfortunately she has passed. I have tried to contact the Benders through social media, but have had no results.
    I too would love to hear from them and anyone who was in 3rd grade at the school. Our house was right across the street.
    Best wishes to all.

    Janice Jobe Edwards

    [email protected]

  18. Diana Bowyer says:

    Hi my name is Diana Bowyer
    I lived in Sue City from 1958 to 1960 my father worked on the powerhouse. I worked in the office where I meet my husband Ron Bowyer we were married for 50 YEARS. I WAS ONE OF of the American kids at 16 of age. The Goodson we’re great friends of my parents. Have great memories of sue city. My father name was Jack Williams

  19. Trent Seale says:

    Hi Marcus, funnily enough I heard a story from an old bushy yesterday that worked out of Sue City in the day. His version for the naming of the town was a lot more colourful… Apparently there were a lot of prostitutes brought to town for the workers and the head lady that ran it was called Sue… hence the name Sue City. Not sure if it’s a tall tale but worth adding to the story. Amazing times and hard workers.

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