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Travel

Germany's Oldest Operating Rack Railway Turns 125

It's transported some 35 million people to the top of one of Europe's most-visited mountains: the Drachenfels, or Dragon Rock, rack railway in western Germany.

The Drachenfels rack railway in motion

Running up the mountain since 1883

Until 1883, Drachenfels visitors had to climb up 320 meters (1,050 feet) to the top of the mountain near the town of Koenigswinter, just south of Bonn. But when the new steam traction railway opened in the summer of that year, reaching the peak suddenly became a much less strenuous experience.

The Drachenfels rack railway at a stop

Waiting for travelers

In 1913, the railway, which runs 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles), was bought by the owner of world-famous 4711 Eau de Cologne and still belongs to the family.

In 1953, the railway was switched to electric traction. Five years later came the railway's darkest hour, when 17 people died after the train derailed.

Since then, no major accidents have occurred and the Drachenfels railroad is currently celebrating its anniversary with a special stamp. A small museum at the base station of the railway also tells visitors about its history.

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