The town of Sedan situated north east of Adelaide is at the crossroads. Predominantly a farming community, it has always been a small town located between larger destinations - the Barossa Valley and the Riverland.
Standing at the cross roads by the Sedan Hotel, there is still a large amount of commercial traffic passing by. But while the town's commercial centre has shrunk significantly over the years, many of the buildings remain intact for visitors to see and explore on the Sedan Heritage Trail.
The Sedan Heritage Trail is a guided walk around the town, visiting many of the places significant to the history of Sedan. There's a shelter next to the Sedan Hotel where a heritage map is displayed, together with the history of places to visit.
The Sedan Hotel - a Community Hub For More Than a Century
Originally the arid land around Sedan was used only by transient aboriginals and then later as pasture in the 1840's. By the 1860's the number of farms in the area was growing steadily with settlers of Germanic origin arriving from areas including the Barossa Valley. An enterprising farmer (J.W Pfeiffer) then subdivided some of his land to create the town of Sedan, named after a battle in the Franco-Prussian war.
Pfeiffer built a flour mill in 1881 which became known as the Sedan Milling Co in 1934 and still stands today. The Sedan Hotel also opened in 1881 and has been an important community hub for the area ever since.
The Lutheran church at the centre of the town opened in 1873, and children attended school there until 1917.
Saddlers and blacksmiths, a storekeeper, butcher and postmaster had all arrived by 1900 when the Directory of South Australia recorded the town had around 26 houses and a population of about 120 - a little more than today's population of around 100. "Communication with Adelaide" was described as Coach daily to Freeling, thence train.
The First Train From Adelaide to Sedan in 1919 (Courtesy SLSA B23072)
The one thing that the people of Sedan missed was a railway. In 1883 The Advertiser reported that a deputation had asked the Commissioner of Works for a branch on the Morgan railway line to be built to Sedan. It wasn't until 1919 that the Monarto South to Sedan railway line was finally built, and you can still see one of the original railway bridges south of Cambrai. In 1921 the Railway Commissioner predicted that 40,000 bags of wheat would be transported from Sedan, while goods such as superphosphate fertiliser came back on the return journey.
The railway line gave Sedan a new injection of life, and by 1925 there was a primary school, two churches, two banks, and two Justices of the Peace, with trains running to Adelaide on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
From the 1940's farming in Sedan began to decline due to arid conditions, and the Sedan railway line was eventually closed in 1964, although it re-opened briefly in 1966 for the laying of the Swan Reach to Stockwell pipeline. The town's industry suffered a steady decline through the 1970's leaving only farming as its mainstay.