Sun, 06 Mar 2005


Steam train nostalgia in German industrial museums

Horst Heinz Grimm Deutsche Presse-Agentur/Nuremberg

Several dozen German museums featuring the veterans of railway and industrial history are posting a record number of visitors.

"The interest in industrial culture is enormous," says Heimo Echensperger, chairman of the German Museum and Tourist Trains (VDTM) with about 300,000 visitors coming to the museums each year.

The VDTM estimates the number of steam locomotives in the country at 1,500 with 180 of them still in running condition.

The oldest original steam locomotive in Germany, the Nordgau can be seen in the railway museum in Nuremberg. It was built in 1853.

A 1989 replica of the first steam locomotive built in Germany, the Saxonia of 1839, can be seen in the traffic museum in Dresden.

Several other smaller and bigger museums have their special steam engine. The museum in the town of Neuenmarkt has one of only two 1956 Model 10 locomotives.

The Railway History Museum in Frankfurt has a 70-year-old model 01118 built by Krupp. The 24-metre long machine weighing 170 tonnes with a 2,240 hp engine is still in running order.

The DGEG railway museum in the city of Bochum-Dahlhausen has twelve running steam locomotives.

"Each year we have more visitors," says Soenke Windelschmidt from the museum management. The complex features a historic locomotive shed dating back to 1918, a water tower, a coal crane and other railway buildings from the 1920s.

Especially popular is the narrow track railway line in the eastern German town of Wernigerode. The 1927 workshops are open to visitors every Friday afternoon. About two dozen steam trains service a 131-kilometer route with a regular timetable.

Another popular destination is the eastern spa town of Binz on the island of Ruegen. The "Rasender Roland", or racing Roland, is a running museum train on a 750 milimeter track where sightseeing can be combined with 1930s nostalgia.