Monday, 30 April 2012

Vaser Valley Railway, Romania - Part 2

The industrial use of timber in the Vaser Valley began at the beginning of the 18th century, during the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  German-speaking settlers explored the forest, harvested the timber, and transported it in log rafts down the river to the saw mills of Viseu de Sus.  In 1932 the forestry railway was built - an enormous technical advance compared with the rafting.

Forestry railways were widespread across Europe, especially in the Carpathian Mountains. The operating principle was very simple: they followed the rivers, often necessitating tight curves - hence the use of the narrow gauge!  The tracks were constructed so as to enable small locomotives to pull empty logging wagons up into the mountains and to let heavily loaded trains roll down under gravity to the saw mills in Viseu de Sus.

While forest roads replaced the railways in most European countries after 1945, the forestry railways in Romania survived much longer - in 1970 the State-run forestry administration still operated more than 3000 kilometres of railway.  Even as late as 1986 new forestry steam locomotives were being built in Romania, and in 1989 more than 15 forestry railways were still in existence, totalling approximately 1000 kms of line.

                                                                                                                                      ........  cont part 3

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