“The railway Compound at Kobe is a valuable and extensive plot of land, with a good water frontage on the west side of the harbour. There is a good passenger station with brick buildings.
“Into this station and yard the Sanyo Railway have running powers. This is a private railway company starting from the Kobe Station and going in a westerly direction to Mihara in the Okayama Ken, a distance of 143-miles. Shortly this line will reach Hiroshima. There is also provided a pier 450 ft. long and 40 ft. broad, with three lines lines of rails, where sea-going ships of 20 ft. draught can load and discharge cargo.
“Kobe Station being the headquarters of the Western Section of the Government Railways, there are large offices for the engineering, locomotive, traffic, and stores department; godowns for storing material; works for building and repairing engines, carriages, wagons, and doing any other mechanical work required on the railway, besides having an engine, carriage, and wagon depot, and general arrangement for coaling and watering the engines.”
– The Railway Engineer, September 1895
“The [Kobe-Osaka-Tokyo] line started at a completely new wrought iron pier which the Railway Bureau built at Kobe as part of the line, extending out into the water some 450 feet and 40 feet wide … and equipped with a traverser at the end (a type of sliding deck with track on it, onto which cars could be rolled, slid sideways to another track, and then rolled off).
“This configuration permitted two ships on either side of the dock to be loaded or off-loaded directly to or from railway cars without interruption. (The freight cars of the day were small, squarish British-style 4-wheel cars of an 8-foot wheelbase that could easily be pulled by a good draught horse, or pushed by three or four men.)
“For many years this was one of the best docks at Kobe, and it was strictly reserved for government ships or ships on official business only. Not even Yokohama, the premier port of the realm, could claim to have as modern a port facility at the time.”
– Early Japanese Railways, 1853-1914, by Dan Free, 2008