Schafbergbahn Cog Railway, Salzkammergut
The Schafberbahn is a cog railway on Mount Schafsberg in the Sazlzkammergut, more precisely in the municipality of St. Gilgen, a popular travel destination. The starting point, however, is in nearby St. Wolfgang. The Schafbergbahn featured in "The Sound of Music" and is a highly popular day-trip destination among both locals and tourists. Mount Schafberg is 1783 metres high and the railway is famous for some very nice views over much of the Salzkammergut Lake District, most importantly Lake Wolfgangsee.
The construction of the Schafbergbahn dates back to the late 19th century. At this time, it became common among Viennese aristocrats to spend the summer in the mountains of Salzburg, Tyrol or Carinthia. The railway network was rapidly developed and an early form of tourism became an important source of income for many locals in the Salzkammergut.
Delays in Constructing the Schafbergbahn
By 1872, there were dozens of people employed every summer as guides and carriers to climb Mount Schafberg, which was popular due to its beautiful views. That year, detailed plans for the construction of a railway up to the summit were proposed and a commission given to two entrepreneurs, Berthold Currant and Carl Peusens.
Unfortunately, the year 1873 saw the onset of the Great Depression that was to haunt much of Europe and the rest of the world on and off for the next 20-odd years. The plans of the Schafbergbahn were postponed. Only in 1890, the proposals were taken up again and a consortium of investors funded the construction of the railway which was built in 1893. Financial difficulties forced the owners to sell the Schafbergbahn in 1932, when the Vienna-based travel company Verkehrsbüro purchased it.
Schafbergbahn as a Key-Attraction Since 1938
In 1938, it became property of Nazi-Germany′s Reichsbahn and later of the Austrian National Railway ÖBB. Finally, the Schafbergbahn was sold again in 2006. Since then, it is owned by the Salzburg AG, primarily a local energy company, and operated in association with the boats that cruise Lake Wolfgangsee.
The cog railway ascends with up to 25 percent and over an altitude of 1190 metres from the base to the summit station. The railway is still operated with steam locomotives; in 1992, four modern locomotives were built that operate their steam engines with diesel. Older diesel engine locomotives from the 1960ies are kept and maintained for emergencies; more popular, however, are the two original steam locomotives from 1893 and 1892, which are used on special occasions for "nostalgia rides".
Official Website of the Schafbergbahn
Wikipedia on the Schafbergbahn Cog Railway