On December 7th, 1835 the first steam engine powered train in Germany drove from Nuremberg to Fürth. The road between the two Franconian cities was the busiest trade route in the kingdom of Bavaria.

Steam engine "Adler"

King Ludwig I had proposed building a railway in 1825 and 1828 when word from England about steam engine locomotives reached continental Europe. But when his request fell on deaf ears he turned his attention to his favorite project, a canal connecting the rivers Danube and Main. When the Franconian merchants finally decided in 1833 that building a railway was the way to go, Ludwig I supported them, though reluctantly.

During the planning and building phase the founded “𝗞𝗼̈𝗻𝗶𝗴𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗲 𝗟𝘂𝗱𝘄𝗶𝗴𝘀-𝗘𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗯𝗮𝗵𝗻-𝗚𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗹𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗳𝘁” encountered many delays and setbacks. The association had to buy the land the railway was to be built on and some landowners were reluctant to sell. The English unit of a foot was different from the Bavarian “𝗙𝘂ß” causing problems during building. Shipping building materials and the locomotive, named “𝗔𝗱𝗹𝗲𝗿” (eagle) and built by the Robert Stephenson company in Newcastle, from England to Bavaria took a long time.

Nachbau der ersten Dampflokomotive in Deutschland Adler (Nachbau von 1935, Wiederaufbau 2007), im DB Museum in Koblenz-Lützel, einer Zweigstelle des Verkehrsmuseums Nürnberg, April 2010, Von Gesamtzahl meiner hochgeladenen Dateien:904 - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9936258

In November 1835, the first trial runs of the 𝗔𝗱𝗹𝗲𝗿 on the newly built, though not quite finished, railway were conducted. People were very excited and came in masses to see the locomotive and ride in the wagons Because the inauguration of the Germany’s first 𝗘𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗯𝗮𝗵𝗻 was postponed, when it finally took its first official trip from Nürnberg to Fürth on December 7th, the king couldn’t attend. Though the train, as well as the canal, was named after him: 𝗟𝘂𝗱𝘄𝗶𝗴𝘀𝗲𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗯𝗮𝗵𝗻 or 𝗟𝘂𝗱𝘄𝗶𝗴𝘀𝗯𝗮𝗵𝗻.

On the day of the opening in Nuremberg, people started gathering at 8 o'clock in the morning, setting up tents and pavilions, getting ready to witness history. Local politicians, military officials, and a marching band were there to give speeches and play music.

Eröffnung der ersten deutschen Eisenbahn Nürnberg-Fürth, 1835 von Heinrich Heim (1850-1921) - 1906

At 9am, a cannon was fired and the train with 9 train cars drove 200 invited guests the 6 kilometers from Nuremberg to Fürth. The engineer was the Englishman William Wilson, all dressed up with a top hat. The trip from Nuremberg to Fürth and back was repeated at 11am and 1pm as well as 2pm for “normal” people.

The train had 40 PS, a maximal speed of 23-30 km per hour, and took about 9 minutes to reach its destination. However, when King Ludwig I finally took his first trip he wanted a 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝗻𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗳𝗮𝗵𝗿𝘁 and the train reached a speed of 60 kmh.

The day after the big opening, the train started running hourly between the two cities. However, only the train at 1pm and 2pm were pulled by the locomotive, for the other trips horses were used. The 𝗗𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗳𝗲𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗯𝗮𝗵𝗻 was a great success.

During this time, people noticed that the time in Nuremberg and Fürth didn’t match and the train wasn’t on time. The church clock in Fürth had to be adjusted to the (right!) time in Nürnberg.

The 𝗟𝘂𝗱𝘄𝗶𝗴𝘀𝗯𝗮𝗵𝗻 stopped running in 1922. Already the train had been dealing with competition by the 𝗣𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗱𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮ß𝗲𝗻𝗯𝗮𝗵𝗻 (horse drawn street cars), especially when it started running with electricity in 1896.

More photos on my facebook page: @morethanbeerandschnitzel