Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Körschtalbahn history 1: 1891 to 1901

This is the first part of the history of the Fictitious Körschtalbahn. The Körschtal is a real valley that passes our village- but sadly it never contained a narrow gauge railway. All the details in this history are based on real railways somewhere local to the Körschtal, both standard gauge and narrow; and although the 1000mm line to Altensteig closed in 1969, a standard gauge railway run by DB still runs along the beautiful Nagoldtal.

The Körschtal (Körsch Valley) is a small steep sided gorge in the black forest, climbing eastwards from the Nagold Valley up to Dachsburg and Spitzenwald in the hills. In the 1890s the people of the Körschtal saw the industries growing in the Nagold Valley as the standard gauge railway was opened, and they felt that the timber from their forests, and the stone of their quarries was every bit as good as that being carried on the new railway in to Stuttgart and beyond for sale. Furthermore, they reasoned, their valley was at least as beautiful, if not more so than that of the river Nagold, and they felt that the people of the growing towns were being deprived of an excellent opportunity to see this beauty. Nagold was developing its tourism, and many rich hunters were coming to try their luck with the deer in the area. If, the people of the valley reasoned, they had a railway, the wood and stone could go to Stuttgart and the hunters could come and shoot things in the woods, and the Körschtal would prosper.

In 1891 the “Königlich Württembergischen Staats-Eisenbahnen” (The Royal Württemberg State Railways) opened a 1000mm gauge railway to the south, running from Nagold to Altensteig. This spurred the supporters of the Körschtalbahn and in 1893 a plan was put together for a narrow gauge railway, backed by several local towns, and the Government of Württemberg. In the event the main reason for the line was wood; on the broad Nagold river the wood was lashed together and transported downstream in large rafts, but the Körsch was a narrow mountain river, too narrow and rocky for transportation, so the logs had to be transported by cart on unmade roads.

The first cut was made on August the first 1897, and construction continued apace, reaching Dachsburg by 1899. Services started in June of that year. After a brief pause construction began once more and pushed through the final few kilometres to Spitzenwald by June the 28th 1901, and services began within a few weeks, with much fanfare, feasting and firing of cannon. The Körschtal was connected to the outside world, the two black 0-6-0 tank engines could convey freight and passengers at 20km per hour, usually on the same train. Journeys to Stuttgart, Pforzheim and Tübingen were reduced, and the deer of the Körschtal had something new to worry about.

To Be continued...
(Go to Part 2)

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