The Documents on the Semmering Railway from the Imperial & Royal Historical Museum of Austrian Railways

Documentary heritage submitted by Austria and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2017.

© Technisches Museum Wien mit Österreichischer Mediathek . Viaduct across the Kalte Rinne (Semmering Railway), colour lithograph, c. 1854

The Documents on the Semmering Railway from the Imperial & Royal Historical Museum of Austrian Railways are held at the Technisches Museum Wien. This inventory comprises 164 original documents dating from between 1844 and 1910. The archival material also bears an important testimony to the importance attached to technical innovations in the 19th century as well as the growing awareness that technical projects require meticulous documentation. Engineers’ notebooks, sketches, drawings, watercolours, lithographs and steel engravings all bear witness to the way in which this major construction site evolved in the mountain wilderness and how the railway line’s stunning viaducts and tunnels were built using the engineering resources available at the time. Design drawings for the locomotive competition (1851) and for the first series-built mountain locomotives are a tribute to the engineers’ pioneering achievements, particularly since the use of railways on steep gradients was a matter of highly controversial debate among international experts at the time. Panoramic vistas and photographic views highlight the challenging route and illustrate the fascination which the mountain railway clearly exerted on its first passengers as it wound its way through the ruggedly romantic landscape of the Semmering. Documents published on the occasion of the first major anniversaries (1879 and 1904) show that the Semmering Railway was perceived as a milestone in railway engineering early on.Given its route and its length the Semmering Railway is regarded as the world’s first mountain railways and, in 1998, it became the world’s first railway line to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

  • Year of submission: 2016
  • Year of inscription: 2017
  • Country: Austria
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