The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Germany Part 3

Terry Case writes for the final time about his travels for steam. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have reading and editing them.

Click here for the Case Notes Index.

For other tales in this series see:

Arriving at Cranzahl In January 1992 I saw the yard contained a n.g coach and engine on standard gauge wagons waiting to go for overhaul. Cranzahl was a Spartan station, but I was hustled into the warm cab of the diesel shunter by a friendly driver who was also a steam driver. He told me of some of his escapades during the Communist era when he had travelled in the Eastern Bloc countries. 

This was Neudorf on 12th February 1997

Once the n.g. train left the station area it traversed bare hillsides, on reaching Neudorf the train was put in the loop to await a cross, giving me a chance to have a close view of the engine, another chunky 2-10-2T dating back to a 1920s design; with a new batch built in 1950s. 

The downhill train approached the road crossing outside the station sounding its loud whistle, its bell clanging as it entered the station, whistling once more. This time the crew on my train answered with a couple of loud whistles; this was part of the safe-working procedure here to acknowledge the points had been set.

099 740-3 approaching the summit at Niedersclag.16th January 1992

Out of Neudorf the climb started in earnest and it began to snow quite heavily. At Kretscham a class from the local school with their skis joined the train; a great way to get to the snow! The train swept around a horse shoe curve and then into the pine forest for the climb to the summit at Niedersclag. From Niedersclag glimpses of the Czech railway line could be seen as this is part of the border area.

Trains cross at Niedersclagon 17th January 1992

The climb out of Hammerunterwiessenthal could be spectacular. Here the train runs close to the Czech border on 15th January 1992

Further along a train restarts from a halt, seen labouring against the grade on 18th January 1992

Approaching Kurort Oberwiesenthal the line crosses the road so the bell was in operation with the whistle working overtime. This was the first arrival or the day due to arrive at 08.17 when there was usually sufficient light for a shot, seen here on 15th January 1992

I had a number of attempts to photograph the trestle in 1992, I did better on later visits, but by then I was using video. This was on 16th January 1992

The final climb into Kurort Oberwiesenthal sees the line cross the valley by a high metal trestle bridge and then passes the small loco depot before entering the station 14th January 1992. 

A night session at Cranzahl depot on 18th January 1992 saw 99 737 9 being serviced with its marker lights on and cab lit as the fire was tended. 


On my return to Australia I found 737 was the first rebuild of the class; re- entering service on 12/9/91. Built in 1952 as a development of a 1928 design it had just recently had new frames, boiler and cylinders; making a near new engine. It was fitted with a silver chimney band and I was to see it in action a lot over the next few days. 

Variety consisted of a n.g plough stationed in Kurort Oberwiesenthal yard where I also saw standard gauge wagons being shunted on roller wagons, most freight traffic was generated by the depot. 
The winter service was the frequent and used by skiers. The service required three engines and sets of carriages to operate it, even so some turn-arounds; especially after shunting at K.O. were quite sharp. The last service of the day would have a banker, making a good video. This seemed to be a balancing move. After a few days most of the snow had melted, but light snowfalls at night improved photography on following days, one of those rare times when the weather co-operated.

I walked the line, preferring the upper section and the summits either side of Niedersclag. Most days I had lunch at the pub opposite Neudorf station, where I was told I was the first Australian visitor, maybe they were just being nice! A beer and lunch set me up for the afternoon. On later trips I stayed at the pub in a room overlooking the line. On a cold winter night I could lean out of the window and video the activity below. No wonder I liked it!

Finale. I want to thank Rob for hosting these reminiscences, I was part of the post war generation that enjoyed holidays by the sea where copper capped engines were a contrast to Black 5s and 8Fs seen locally. My father worked on the railways so we had an annual trip to see Londonís historical sights and I would get a brief visit to a nearby station, usually Paddington, but I wangled a visit to Waterloo in the dying weeks of steam. My parents felt on safe grounds at Euston with little steam on offer. One year even they came to a halt when we found the reason for a delayed arrival was a diesel failure and in its place was City of London; no need for the notebook for that one! 

When I was 13 my parents gave me the ok to wander. Initial targets were in Manchester, Stockport and Crewe before travel over the Pennines led to Leeds and York. 

After seeing the final BR steam like many others I thought my hobby was over. A school trip to Switzerland, kindled an interest in overseas steam. I found steam still operated if only you could get to it. In Calais I admired a French pacific and despite protests at the smut enjoyed a hard working North American designed 141R hauling the train. Returning to Calais I saw a 4-6-0 arrive on a passenger. It looked strange but at the same time fascinating. I had discovered International steam. 

Thanks to Robís website we are able to share our passion for International steam.

Rob Dickinson