The story of how Hoppers Crossing got its name is actually a “wife’s tale”.
Local legend has it the suburb was named after “ganger” Stephen Hopper who, for the last 33 years of his life, manually operated the gates at the only railway crossing in the area.
But documents from the archives of the Australian Railway Historical Society, unearthed by committee member Ian Jenkin, last week revealed a wrinkle in the details.
“Stephen Hopper lived in one of the only houses in the area and his job as a ganger was to look after a section of track and open and close the gates,” Mr Jenkin said. “But that story isn’t strictly accurate … it was his wife, Elizabeth Hopper, who’s listed as the gatekeeper on the list of railway employees.”
Mr Jenkin said that according to the records, Mrs Hopper played an integral role as the gatekeeper for the only route through Skeleton Creek.
He said Mrs Hopper also established a family and a community in the area, well after her husband’s death.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews shared his thoughts on the revelations in a Facebook post that went viral, attracting more than
1100 comments, 1400 shares and 10,000 reactions.
“History can be biased and can be sexist, too,” Mr Andrews said.
“The history books tell us [Hoppers Crossing] was named after Stephen Hopper … before any highways had been laid or estates had been built. It’s said that he’d be up at all hours, opening and closing the gates for passing carts – keeping Skeleton Creek connected.
“But history got it wrong.”
Mr Andrews said he believed “Elizabeth deserves her credit”.
“The namesake of Hoppers Crossing is a pioneering mother of 11 children and one of the very few female railway employees of her time,” he said.
“Some people might think this story
isn’t important or that the history books should be left alone, but this page is worth
“And her story should be told.”