The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Germany Part 1
Metre Gauge to the Summit

Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.

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For other tales in this series see:

1997, so what is the railway connection? This is an unprotected crossing near Schierke on the line to Brocken. Toboggan riders zipped downhill and over the crossing an approaching engine sounded its loud whistle and its bell was activated. 

My first view of German steam was a couple of 44 class at Sangerhaussen where survivors were used for steam heating. Following unification East German narrow gauge lines faced a bleak future. This is my salute to the German regional governments and fans who saved them. By the time of my first visit in January 1992 engines still carried Deutsche Reichsbahn identification, but the Harz network was operated by HSB a private company that purchased the metre gauge line and equipment in 1993.

Nordhausen had an exchange yard where I watched metre gauge roller wagons carrying standard gauge trucks being shunted by a steam locomotive. Unfortunately my first journey was diesel hauled as were a number of other passenger workings I saw that year. By contrast my 1994 trip was an almost all steam affair.

The line ran alongside a fast flowing stream for much of the way to Eisfelder Talmühle, (E.T.). This section was hard to photograph as it was hemmed in, but was a good ride and suited video as it wound its way to the hills. It was particularly good after a heavy snow fall.

In 1997 Eisfelder Talmühle station was a fascinating dilapidated building, it conjured images of some Gothic horror creature emerging, instead the sprightly ginger haired Red Cap station mistress was a welcome presence to wave us away!

E.T. was the junction that took the line to the Harzgerode and the Selketslbahn. Trains re-starting from E.T. on both the main and branch faced a fierce climb, 14th February 1997 

Leaving Benneckenstein the grades eased and the train passed through lightly forested country that was a pleasure to walk in. Drei Annen Hohne (DAH) was a good base with a friendly station café and a hotel that was a bit weird. One night I found it closed and no staff were to be found, at least they left a door open for me but some food would have been appreciated! 

Wernigerode was the terminus and the old town buildings were worth a look between trains. There were 2 other stops before leaving town, Westerntor where the railway had a workshop and, the line crossed the road here and the old steeple provided an interesting background. 

Climbing from Steinerne Reme an ex works engine looks the part, but it came to grief when it collided with a car and was out of action for the rest of my visit, 9th January 1992

Walking downhill from DAH I found a curve where the forest had been felled and which offered good views, engines had to be worked hard, sounds echoed amongst the hills, 10th January 1992

I thought I was in luck when I saw a “traditional" was going to run with one of the Mallets, alas it was merely coaches in the old D.R, livery. I was not complaining about the struggle I witnessed, 15th February 1997.

Drei Annen Hohne (DAH), was notable as 3 steam trains were often occupying the platforms, a honey pot for fans! Crews would position their engines so as to be able to have a talk whilst waiting for permission to proceed. On this occasion there was not a railfan or hiker in sight! 15th February 1997 

An evening departure and a reminder it was winter, 10th January 1992

A heavy frost and another day of clear sky sets the stage for a departure of the shuttle from DAH to Schierke. In 1992 the line was off limits above Schierke to Brocken as the military installations at Broken had not been de-commissioned, 9th January 1992

Schierke departure for Brocken Top, 8th January 1994

In 1994 the line was fully open, except for days when the snow plough was needed. One morning I was waiting for the train from Schierke, it was thundering along and sounding its whistle when the exhaust slowed and the train appeared drawing to a halt. From the footplate a guy high viz orange leaned out and from the distance seemed to push a pole in the snow. A small p.w. team gingerly lowered themselves into the deep snow below. The engine had to get underway on wet track and negotiate a tight curve which it did whilst shattering the still of the forest. I noticed many passengers were ignoring the cold and riding the open ended carriages, good on them! Through trains were a hit running from both Wernigerode and Nordhausen. 

Following a day walking and photographing I would catch the last train to DAH, joining the many hikers, often it was standing room only. It was great to see the way this railway was fulfilling its potential and see the children gazing in awe at the steam engine, another generation hooked on steam!

Brocken receives another train load of passengers to gaze at the views and the remains of the military installation, 7th January 1994

A downgrade working to Schierke. The upgrade train was fantastic working hard and well lit, but my camera had gone into a coma, so out with the video, 8th January 1994.

Rob Dickinson