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Over 130 years... The first plans for the SchafbergBahn cog railway were drawn up at the beginning of the 19th century. Back then, visitors were traveling by post coach to St. Wolfgang and the Romantic painters were rediscovering this area.

The history of SchafbergBahn cog railway

“Litter Bearers”

During this time, the highest nobility from Vienna as well as wealthy citizens of St. Wolfgang would literally have themselves carried up the Schafberg. From contemporaneous sketches, we know that the “Sesselträger” profession – that of the litter bearer – developed in St. Wolfgang very early on. It involved a trade association with a formalized fare structure, specific waiting areas and strict rules to guarantee the safety of passengers. Supplemental to that, plans to build a cog railway existed for a long time.

Construction of the SchafbergBahn cog railway

The project got underway in April 1892 under the engineering leadership of Eugen Sooss. Actual construction was undertaken by the company Stern & Hafferl, while the arduous physical labor was assigned to 350 mostly Italian workers. Transportation of required materials and provisions up the mountain required roughly 6000 trips by fully laden mules. Construction only had to be interrupted briefly during a severe cold snap during the winter of 1892/93.

Establishment of SKGLB

In the year 1872, Berthold Curant made plans to build a railway from Winkl near St. Gilgen to the top of the Schafberg. He urgently needed this railway to increase the frequency of steamships serving Wolfgangsee. But it was not until 1890 that the imperial authorities granted permission for construction of a narrow-gauge local railway serving Ischl-Salzburg and Mondsee-Steindorf, as well as for a cog railway up the Schafberg departing from St. Wolfgang. The consequence was the founding of the Salzkammergut Lokalbahn Gesellschaft (SKGLB).

Locomotives of the SchafbergBahn cog railway and the 20th century

At the beginning of 1893, the first locomotive for the Schafbergbahn arrived in Ischl, the Z1, in a disassembled state, and was transported to St. Wolfgang by sleigh, where it was then reassembled by the Krauss company. 28 March saw the first test journey to the Aschingergut. On 31 July 1893, the first train finally reached the summit of the Schafbergspitze and, on the very next day, on 1 August, the Schafbergbahn was officially opened.

In 1932, the line was bought up by Österreichisches Verkehrsbüro, then taken over by Deutsche Reichsbahn in 1938. After the Second World War, it came under the control of ÖBB (Austrian Railways).

SchafbergBahn cog railway today

At the start of the 2006 season, Salzkammergutbahn GmbH (SKGB) – a subsidiary of “Salzburg AG für Energie, Verkehr und Telekommunikation” – took over both WolfgangseeSchifffahrt as well as the SchafbergBahn.

The majority of trains were pulled by modern oil-fired locomotives. The original rolling stock from the end of the 19th century represents some of the oldest cog-rail locomotives still in operation anywhere in the world. They are used exclusively at the head of so-called “Nostalgia Trains”, which run on specific dates during the summer months.


You can still enjoy a ride with the historic steam-powered cog locomotives during Sunset Rides.

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