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18. Wilsdruffer Dampftreff
Über 150 km Schmalspurstrecken in Mittelsachsen
Railway and local history...
For more than seven decades Wilsdruff, a small town in middle Saxony, has been the hub of a narrow gauge railway network (750 mm gauge) with more than 100 line kilometres, covering a rural area of more than 800 square kilometres. The first railway link from Freital-Potschappel to Wilsdruff was put in service in 1886.
The network had been growing in several stages since and reached its maximum size in 1923 with a total of 43 stations and halts. The lines were constructed as feeders for the main railway and especially for the transportation of agricultural products like sugar beets. Using the connecting line from Gärtitz to the neighbouring network around Mügeln it was possible to rattle by narrow gauge train from Frauenstein in the Ore Mountains as far as Strehla near the river Elbe, though the journey time would have been approximately two days because the timetables were designed to meet rather local needs.
The narrow gauge network around Wilsdruff is well known to railway history enthusiasts, for example because of the legendary steam locomotive class VIK and the famous collapse of the so called Wurgwitz bridge under the weight of a freight train.
Between 1966 and 1973 the service on all line was withdrawn as a result of the transportation policy in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Reasons to do so were the beginning motorisation of private households even in rural areas and the growing possibilities for replacement of public railway transport services by bus and lorry.
Today we remember with a kind of nostalgic feeling on the big time of the narrow gauge railways in the area around Wilsdruff.
Twenty years after the closing down of the first railway sections a small group of railway enthusiasts started to gather facts and relicts of the history of the narrow gauge lines, the IG Verkehrsgeschichte was founded. For the time being a small open-air museum was created at the side of the former Wilsdruff Haltepunkt the first halt on the line to Meissen. During the last years led by the initiative of the "IG Verkehrsgeschichte" several line sections became a second life as footpaths or cycle tracks and several railway structures like bridges or station houses are preserved to remember future generations on the once so important means of transport.
Since 2009 the refurbished engine shed of the former main station of Wilsdruff is accessible to the public. An exhibition about the history of the Wilsdruff narrow gauge network can be visited on several opening days a year. On these days the relaid track on the grounds of the former station can be explored by the visitors by means of a trolley. And from time to time the odd narrow gauge steam locomotive will be visiting the shed in steam as highlight on special occasions.
We wish you an unhurried journey from the past to present of the Wilsdruff narrow gauge network.
(Please climb aboard the train!)