Interesting facts 

From Sedan Chair to Cable Railway

How to accommodate the wealthy guests was not the only challenge faced by the early tourist industry in the World Heritage Region. The clients also demanded high standards of transport: they were used to the comfort and the convenience of carriages, ships and trains. None of these means of transport were of any use in the mountain wilderness. Therefore other solutions had to be found. 

 

In Naters, sedan chairs were used. They were available for any visitor who did not want to walk or to ride a mule all the way up to the Belalp – and who had the necessary wherewithal. It was not cheap: 40 francs to be carried by four porters from the valley to the Hotel Belalp, 1500 metres higher up. On sunny days, around 50 guests would allow themselves this pleasure. Litters and sedan chairs have two major disadvantages: they are slow and cannot carry very many people. 

The steep slopes of the World Heritage Region defeated ordinary trains. But specially built railways using cables and cogwheels were able to tackle them successfully. In 1890 Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald were connected to the international railway network via a rack-and-pinion track; as of 1893 the Wengernalp railway provided a link between the valley and the Kleine Scheidegg. That same year, Adolf Guyer-Zeller, an industrialist from Zürich, announced plans to build a cogwheel railway from the Kleine Scheidegg through the Eiger and Mönch to the Jungfrau. His audacious project was realised despite huge technical challenges and financial problems. Even if the terminus is not at the summit of the Jungfrau as originally intended, but somewhat lower on the Jungfraujoch, 3454 m above sea level, it has nevertheless been a huge success. The Jungfrau Railway with its “Top of Europe” station is one of the most attractive destinations in the Alps and is said to be the most profitable mountain railway company in Switzerland.