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 Batn al-Ghul Station
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Batn al Ghul station/cut is located south of Ma'an where the railway drops down to the lower desert. Building this was a real challenge, and it was apparently a very interesting ride, as recorded by the Dominican Fathers in 1909. Their account of Batn al Ghul is recorded below. You can read more of their account by clicking here.

 

Spring 1909
55 kilometres south of Maan, Qalaat el-Aqaba - that is not to be confused with the place of the same name on the Red Sea - enjoyed a certain fame because of its position. Regardless of the administrative divisions, that have changed a lot, from the point of view of the physical landscape, it was the last post in the lands of esh-Sham [Syria]. There, the Syrian pilgrims camped for the last time in their own country, and prepared themselves to confront a desert longer and more terrible than the one they had already crossed. Indeed, its entrance was not reassuring. Having wandered some time in the hills with restricted views on all sides, they would fall into the Batn el-Ghul, the 'belly of the demon'. That is the name given to what is indeed a demonic pass by which one descends to a lower level that marks the beginning of the Hedjaz. The engineers had to build a railway through this precipice. They managed by means of detours and cuttings, but the slope is still considerable and we descend with alarming speed which inspires legitimate fear. There have already been some derailments. Luckily the train drivers learn little by little and the passenger becomes absorbed by the beauty of the countryside. We travel amidst variegated sandstones of all colours, but dominated by yellow with black of a steely grey tint. The spectacle is splendid and the wildness of the place adds to its charm. (Mission II, pp51-42)

The account of the trip taken by the Dominican Fathers of the French Ecole d'Etudes Bibliques (School of Biblical Studies) in Jerusalem on their way to the Nabataean site of Medain Saleh in 1909 was translated by Dr Geraldine Chatelard of the Institut français du Proche-Orient, Amman. Thank you Dr. Chartelard for sending this to us.

 

 

 

 

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