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Yahoo Map of Vitznau railwaystation

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From here goes the oldest rack railway in Europe run by a steam engine.
The train goes from the city Vitznau at the Vierwaldstaettersee to Mount Rigi.

Interesting for Vitznau railway station is the turntable directly at the station. South of the station is the engine shed.

Aware of the scenic location of Mount Rigi, Swiss engineer Niklaus Riggenbach masterminded the construction of a railway from Vitznau, on the shores of Lake Lucerne, to a point close to its summit. He already had the technology as he had patented, in France in 1863, a system of toothed racks set between the railway tracks interlocking with cogwheels fitted below the locomotives.

Historic steam on the Rigi. Rigibahn No.16, built by SLM (Works No.2871) in 1923.Jointly, with fellow engineers Olivier Zschokke and Adolf Naef, he submitted an application to the Canton of Luzern (Lucerne) for permission to build his line. The Canton administration already knew of the Mount Washington Railway in the United States using a similar system devised by Sylvester Marsh (and known as the Marsh system in the USA) and saw the advantages in this construction, granting permission on 9th June 1869. The construction itself began in the following September, the limited liability company, which had offered 1250 shares was greatly over-subscribed on the first day of issue. On 21st May 1870, Riggenbach’s birthday, locomotive No.1, named Stadt Luzern, made its first trial run. Exactly one year later the first mountain railway using rack and pinion technology was officially opened, Riggenbach, never noted for missing an opportunity, drove the first train to the upper terminus at Rigi Staffelhohe, the boundary of Cantons Luzern and Schwyz. As no application for the line had been submitted to the Canton Schwyz authorities this was the limit of operation.

The line, from Vitznau to Rigi Staffelhohe was 5 km long and climbed a total of 1115 m. to reach a height of 1550 m. (3456.5 feet) at its summit, the maximun gradient being 1 in 4 (25%).


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