History

The Semakh Railway Station was built by Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II in 1905 and began regular operations a year later. It was one of the main stations on the “Valley Train” branch of the Hijaz line that ran between Haifa and Dara’a, whose purpose was to connect the Hijaz railway line with the Mediterranean coast.

Since its establishment, the Semakh railway station became a strategic location and of great importance. During the First World War, the station became of greater importance when it developed into the main railway station through which supplies and manpower flowed to and from the front lines.

The Semakh railway station was taken by the Fourth Australian Light House (A.L.H.) in the early hours of September 25, 1918, at the end of World War One. The only night cavalry battle recorded in modern history. In the fierce battle that took place at the railway station, 19 Australian cavalry fell, including 11 Aboriginal soldiers.

A fierce battle also took place at the station with the Syrian army on May 18 1948, during the Israeli War of Independence.

On the Night of the Bridges (June 16 1946), the “El Hawa” bridge over the Yarmuk River was blown up stopping all rail movement crossing Israel’s borders. The destruction of three additional small bridges in early 1948 halted the operation of Semakh Station and the Valley Train Line, which was officially closed at the end of 1951.

The unique buildings located at the Semakh railway station included: a main building where the stationmaster and his personnel lived, a goods platform, a platelayer building, a passenger buffet platform, a dual oval-shaped water tower, steam engine garage, turntable, quarantine facilities and customs buildings. The British Mandate in Palestine added a subterranean fuel container and above ground oil tower.

For a period of about 66 years the station complex was used by the IDF and the Jordan Valley Regional Council. Most of the historic buildings and structures were rehabilitated and restored through work that began in 2013 and was carried out by the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel in collaboration with Kinneret Academic College.

A visitor center is located at the station, with a memorial garden for Australian soldiers at its center, to commemorates the fallen. An impressive statue of an Aboriginal warrior (based on a soldier who fell in battle at Semakh (and his horse). The soldier kneels in front of the grave of a fallen brother in arms.

The historic site of the Semakh Train Station

A unique reconstructed heritage site was incorporated into the center, which tells the history of the Valley Train, the Semakh station and the entire region. Visitors can walk around the historic station buildings, and along a walkway, which illustrates the various stations of the Valley railway line and an enclosed visitor center inside the historic water tower. Offering a Hebrew and English movie and exhibition, which describes the legendary Valley railway line and the Semakh Station.

The station is located near the shore of the Sea of Galilee, on the Kinneret Academic College campus, about 400 meters from Semakh Junction on Route 92. The station is open and offers guided tours by students from the “Land of Israel Studies” department.

There are three fascinating global historic events connected to the station:

  • The successful battle for the station by the Australian Light Horse (A.L.H) during World War One.
    The Australian Light Horse, which was part of Allenby’s army, took the station from Turkish and German forces in a heroic battle, which was one of the last in Palestine during World War One, and one of the last cavalry charges in history.
  • The Indians who fought at the railway station and defended the Jordan Valley in 1920.
    In April 1920 thousands of Bedouin were repelled after attacking the Indian Battalion of the British forces barracked near the railway station.The attack, which failed due to the tenacity of the Indian troops and the arrival on the scene of a number of Royal Air Force planes, testifies to the important role of Indian soldiers in the region in this period as well as the future importance of the Royal Air Force in policing and exerting British military control of Palestine, as in other places in the British empire in the interwar years.
  • During the War of Independence (May 18 1948), a fierce battle took place on the station site, against the Syrian forces who infiltrated the Jordan Valley.
    The centrality and importance of the railway station was critical in the defense of the Jordan Valley during the War of Independence.

Support Semakh Railway Station

You can help provide the means to complete new projects, publish historical materials, and improve the Semakh railway complex for future generations. With your support, we will work together to ensure Semakh history retains a prominent place in the hearts and minds of students, alumni, and visitors across the country and beyond.

 Contact:
Ziv Ophir: ziv@kinneret.ac.il / +9720505656291 / +972046653656

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The Semakh Railway Station of historical importance
“THE AUSTRALIAN HORSEMEN KEEP ON GALLOPING”
Trumpet calls The
102 years since the Historic Battle of Semakh Railway Station
On the battlefield THEY were “us”
years since the Historic Battle of Semakh Railway Station 103
A moving meeting in Semakh at the unveling of the Aburiginal soldier statue

Anzak Day

Ceremony of The Australian Light Horsemen in The Kinneret College On The Sea of Galilee
Anzak Day 2013
Anzak Day 2014
Diorama of the “Moment of attack” by Australian cavalry on Semakh Railway Station 25.9.1918

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