Rail hub town took the name Moss Vale in 1870.
Prior to being gazetted as a township in 1863, the Moss Vale locality was farm land.
This land included part of the Throsby estate, established at Bong Bong in the 1820s, that by the 1850s had become the finest property in the district.
The estate stretched across several thousand acres south of the river and along the east side of Argyle Road.
To the west, the estate of William Hutchinson, a prosperous emancipist who later helped establish the Bank of NSW, ran down to Whites Creek.
South of Whites Creek was another of the early land grants in the area, known as Browley. It was established by John Waite who, after serving with Dr Throsby as an explorer, became a leading local settler and added further to his holdings.
It was through these three properties that the proposed rail line would pass.
All stood to gain from having a town develop around a rail link and in 1863 a township was gazetted.
The following year surveys commenced and the first blocks offered for sale.
During 1867 the proposed railway became a reality when the Great Southern Railway was extended from Mittagong through the Bowral/Burradoo area.
The line then crossed by viaduct over the Wingecarribee River near Bong Bong and rose into a farmland valley from where it later had to traverse steeper inclines further to the south.
As the steam engines would need to take on water and bunker (load) coal at this point, a supply stop was necessary.
Thus it was decided to establish a rail hub in this quiet valley in the area already gazetted for a town.
The railway station that opened in December 1867 was initially named Sutton Forest because a few miles further down the Argyle Road a village of that name had existed since the 1820s.
BY the 1860s it boasted churches, schools, inns, shops and an active social life but, in contrast, the gazetted town at the railway hub was still in the very early stages of development, catering mainly for railway workers who lived nearby in extensive tent communities with a store, postal service and hotel.
The district's main administration centre at the time was Berrima, located about six miles to the west. It had been established on the Great Southern Road in the 1830s. But it was too far from the rail line to directly gain from the benefits it would bring.
At the new rail hub town site, many of the first land buyers were people from Sutton Forest and Berrima who recognised the site's potential as the future centre of the district.
One of the early sub-divisions was referred to as 'Sutton Forest North' and perhaps the Post Office also went by that name but in 1870 it was changed officially to Moss Vale.
The name 'Moss Vale' is said to have come about when a section of Throsby land was being surveyed for town allotments. Jemmy Moss, an ex-convict employee who lived in a hut on the land, asked Oliver Throsby if his home would be taken away from him and he was assured that 'as long as your name is Moss and mine is Throsby, this place is yours'.
The name took hold and in 1877 the railway station was officially renamed Moss Vale.
THE town grew and thrived and in time became the district's major commercial hub.
To the east, rich farming land had been opened up in the 1860s in the Yarrawa Brush district around Robertson and Burrawang. Farmers needed direct access to city markets so the new rail head at Moss Vale, well situated for them, was soon handling their freight.
In 1868 Moss Vale gained special stature when the newly incumbent Governor of NSW, the Earl of Belmore, leased Throsby Park House as it was close to the railway and a desirable place for Lady Belmore to spend the hot months.
Thus began a trend of city dwellers coming by rail to spend a holiday in the cooler highland climate. Once the Governor began visiting the area, so too did Sydney society.
Several merchandise stores were soon open for business and in 1877 Thomas Cosgrove started a butcher's shop and a drapery store was established by Mrs Birmingham.
In 1878 Moss Vale was described as 'a rising township' with the original hotel enlarged by sixteen rooms and several new hotels and commercial buildings opening along the ballasted and metalled Argyle Street.
The fledgling town was well on its way to becoming a municipality.
Words and images provided by Berrima District Historical and Family History Society.