The town of Marble Bar was officially gazetted in 1893 following the discovery of gold in the area in 1890 by a prospector Francis Jenkins who is remembered by the name of the town’s main street. The name Marble Bar was derived from a nearby jasper bar mistaken for marble and now known as Marble Bar, which runs across the bed of the Coongan River.
In 1891 the town boasted a population in excess of 5,000 after a rush on the goldfields. Several large gold nuggets were discovered as a result of the goldrush. The 333 ounce Little Hero nugget, the 413 ounce Bobby Dazzler and the 332 ounce General Gordon nugget were all found in the goldfields around the town.
By 1895 the town had a number of Government offices built from local stone – now National Trust buildings.
Possibly the most famous building in the town is the Ironclad hotel built in the 1890s, constructed of corrugated Iron, and given the name by American miners who were reminded of the ironclad ships prominent in the United States Civil War. In 2006, the Ironclad Hotel was listed on the Western Australian Register of Heritage Places.
During World War II, United States Army Air Forces and Royal Australian Air Force heavy bombers were based at Corunna Downs Airfield, 25 kilometres from town. Allied airmen from the base attacked Japanese forces as far away as Borneo.
Until the early 1950s Marble Bar had a railway connecting with Port Hedland – a narrow gauge precursor to the network of standard gauge iron ore railways that have since been created across the Pilbara.
A world record for the most consecutive days of 100°F (37.8°C) or above was created during the period from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924 (160 days). Temperatures in excess of 45°C are common during December and January.
Marble Bar’s average maximum temperature exceeds normal human body temperature for six months each year.
© Kim Epton 2017-2022
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