Germany

Around the Schwarzatal valley

A quaint cable car, and a trip through one lookout tower

Petr Klauda
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Around the Schwarzatal valley
Inserted: 08.06.2020
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A sightseeing route in Thuringia near the town of Saalfeld, which includes a train journey, then a curious cable car, a small electric train, and then a path with views of the Cat Cottage.

From Rottenbach to Katzhütte

The German state of Thuringia cannot be proud of its status as a cable car power. In fact, the fingers of one hand would be enough for us to count everything that moves and brings a person closer to the heights. And yet there is an interesting attraction to please both tourists and people affected by deviations in the field of transport. The name of the final station at the head of the regional train suggests that we are going to the hills, forests and slopes. „Katzhütte“ or Cat Cottage evokes the name of a mountain solitude. So I get on a motorbike in Rottenbach and let myself be taken to the mountains, in this case the Thuringian Forest. In Sitzendorf, where the „Christmas station“ is, Santa Klaus is staring at me in more than life-size size, sitting across the roof of the station warehouse. further. The next stop with the slightly obscene name Obstfelderschmiede is the right one and I'm getting off. In addition to the fact that a wooden covered bridge leads across the stream to the parking lot, there is also an object of my interest, a cable car. This is interesting for several reasons. In its upper station, it is followed by an approximately 2.5 km long electrified line to the village of Cursdorf. Both were built in 1922, due to the fact that the villages on the plateau were difficult to access, especially in winter, and building a classic railway overcoming an elevation of 300 meters made no sense. The cable car was built not only to transport people but also cargo. Therefore, it has another peculiarity, while one cable car is a classic construction, as we know it from Petřín in Prague, the other (ie freight) car is actually a chassis with a platform that is horizontal to the terrain and there are standard tracks on it. Until 1966, rail freight cars were commonly transported on this wagon. The turntable in the lower station was used to approach the cable car, which turned the car by 90 ° and it was later connected via a turnout to the classic track on which I arrived. I walk around the building of the lower station and get to the dormitory from where there will be a nice view of the arriving cable car. And I don't wait long, in a few minutes, a car arrives inaudibly and very slowly (but it also runs 1.5 km for 18 minutes). I'll have a ticket I bought on a passenger train checked. A full-day ticket for the train from Rottenbach, the cable car and the upper section to Cursdorf costs € 14, then 10 in one direction, and since I have a network ticket for the whole of Thuringia, I have another 3 Euro discount. I get into the car in such a way that it is well photographed (the guide didn't even have a problem that I was standing on its platform) and the car starts moving after a while. A little above the station, you can see the turntable very well (and also the second track of the valley station, which is followed by a „truck“). As we ascend, the views slowly open. There is a turnout in the middle of the route and here we pass the second truck. And in order not to drive empty, there is always a car for passengers on it. Indoor in winter and roofless in summer, so for photographers what more could you want. After reaching the upper station of Lichtenhein, I still buy views from the guide and go to the elevated platform of the subsequent line to Cursdorf. There is also a turntable that can guide cars to the cable car. A train, consisting of two cars, a classic closed and then a driving car, which was without windows, arrives over this turntable after a while. Even though the mercury of the thermometer that day didn't sway over laziness out of laziness, I'm going windowless. After checking the tickets, we leave. The ride is slow, we do not exceed a speed of 30 km all the way. However, the road is not long, it is only 2.5 km of track. Even because of such short distances, it has paid off to build a railway in the past. There are also nice views from the train, but unfortunately the photography was not too long. In Cursdorf there is only one track with a platform, behind which there is a small draw. My plan is to go through the „Cat Cottage“ mentioned in the introduction through one lookout tower. I go out to the village located about 700 meters above sea level and I have another almost 100 meters of elevation gain to the lookout tower. Behind the village, the lane markings, which we also know from us, lead me off the road to the left and I slowly climb up the pastures. A lookout wooden gazebo appears above me. But the brand still leads me on, now along the forest. Only after a few hundred meters there is a crossroads, and I start to climb turned almost 180 ° to the gazebo, from where there is a nice view of Cursdorf. A short distance from the gazebo through the forest and I come to the Meuselbecher Kuppe lookout tower with a tourist hut, but unfortunately closed. Even so, you can take a picture from here and you have no choice but to continue. The next road leads down the hill to Panoramaweg Schwarzatal. Above the village of Meuselbach-Schwarzmühle there are views of the valley and also of the pastures above the village. But there is not much time to return the astonished looks of grazing cows, and I continue. The above-mentioned village is just a „lick“ and I descend further into the valley of the river Weisse Schwarza. The road changes to a paved one and also begins to rain slightly. I am still waiting for about 1.5 km on the asphalt. I have to be careful here, because I missed the restaurant, and then a number of cars head for it, which I avoid, probably in response to the abstinence caused by the several months of closing the catering facilities. The rain is starting to increase slowly, so after crossing the main road to the station, I have quite dog weather at the „cat“ cottage, so I'm glad that a motorbike is coming and I can sit inside. The entire walking route from Cursdorf is about 7 km long and in connection with the cable car you need about 3 hours for the whole circuit. On the railway line to Rottenbach, there is also the castle Schwarzburg, whose tour can also be incorporated into the road.

Oberweissbacher Bergbahn cable car

A cable car, a cable car, emerged from the forest quite inaudibly

Oberweissbacher Bergbahn cable car
Author: Petr Klauda © gigaplaces.com
Cable car truck
Author: Petr Klauda © gigaplaces.com

Cable car truck

On the way up, we pass a second car originally intended for the transport of freight railway cars. Today, a covered passenger car alternates with an open passenger car (pictured) in the summer months

Railway to Cursdorf

The track connected to the cable car looks more like a tram. Its length is only 2.5 km, and the driving speed is very prudent. The more it sits to enjoy the surrounding nature

Railway to Cursdorf
Author: Petr Klauda © gigaplaces.com

On the way to Cursdorf

A slow train ride allows you to enjoy the mountains of Thuringia

On the way to Cursdorf
Author: Petr Klauda © gigaplaces.com
Lookout tower on Meuselbacher Kuppe
Author: Petr Klauda © gigaplaces.com

Lookout tower on Meuselbacher Kuppe

Unfortunately, the lookout tower is closed … so maybe next time

View from the lookout tower

Well, it's not completely bad, but the lookout tower would take me a few meters higher.

View from the lookout tower
Author: Petr Klauda © gigaplaces.com

Descent to the village Meuselbach - Schwarzmühle

As I wrote in the article, this village only „licks“ the edge.

Descent to the village Meuselbach - Schwarzmühle
Author: Petr Klauda © gigaplaces.com

And the final descent into the valley to Katzhütte

From here it is still about 2 km through the forest to the station in Katzhütte.

And the final descent into the valley to Katzhütte
Author: Petr Klauda © gigaplaces.com
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