European Narrow Gauge Circle Tour - 1995
Part 2 - Austria
This photo essay covers an escorted tour I took in 1995 through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. My photos were lost in a house fire but about 50% of the negatives survived. My brother Ian scanned and cropped the useable film and here they are. The mix is about equal parts real trains, large scale model trains, and scenic images. I hope you enjoy the trip.
The Austrian segment of the trip took us to Saltzburg, St Wolfgang, Berchtesgaden, Jenbach, Achensee, Innsbruck, and Feldkirk where we entered Switzerland through Liechtenstein. The mainline through trains in Austria are standard gauge run by OBB. There are large meter gauge installations like the Zillertahlbann and many small restored tourist lines. Click here to see a map of Austria's rail network.
We stayed in Salzburg to tour the fortress and the ancient town streets. Salzburg is the home of Mozart and the inspiration for "The Sound of Music", in which the Von Trapp family's trials and tribulations are sung. Much is made of both these tourist attractions, but there are many other sights.
Next day, we headed a short distance to St Wolfgang, on Wolfgangsee, via ferry, to visit the Schafbergbahn, a really steep narrow gauge rack railway still using steam engines. This is a beautiful spot with tiny streets and tiny hotels - the largest has 12 rooms. The Weisse Rossl (White Horse) is best known and most visible. Tourism is the only industry here.
From here, our bus took us to Berchtesgaden and Konigsee, the vacation retreat of Adolph Hitler more than 60 years ago. It is now a National Park and a major tourist destination for its scenic beauty and unspoiled natural setting (there are no trains, darn it). We were serenaded at lakeside by an Austrian band playing Hawaiian music!
Our bus got us to Innsbruck in time for a late supper and bed. In the morning we backtracked to Jenbach to watch the Zillertalbahn operations and ride the train part way up the valley. The entire Ziller valley is a great train watching venue, The famous Bier Keg tavern car of the Zillertalbahn was in the shed at Jenbach, but we didn't get to ride in it
Next day, we returned to Jenbach to board the Achenseebanh, another narrow gauge rack railway with steam locomotives. The Achenseebahn terminates at the lake, where a steam paddle-wheel ferry can be taken to the other shore. This is a big lake with imposing mountain peaks and glaciers. The town is small, very neat, and offers a decent lunch.
On return to Innsbruck, we spent another night and toured the town a bit. The Winter Olympics were held here in 1964 and they are still very proud of the fact, The OBB mainline and the yards at Innsbruck are also great train watching sites. As well, there seems to be more operating cable cars per square mile here than anywhere else in the world.
Then it was on to Switzerland through Lichtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world.