Monday, September 26, 2005
The House I Live In: Wuppertal Part 2
Thanks to Siamak D. Ahi for leading me to some of the fascinating stories of the Schwebebahn "About 100 years ago, Barmen and Elberfeld - two German towns with a combined population of almost 250,000, approximately 10 kilometers apart and both along the Wupper River - began attempts at improving communication and traffic flow. Horse-drawn and (later) vehicle traffic could not be extended, the connecting river valley not able to accommodate additional or extended roadways. Also, the ground was either too wet or rocky for underground trains. The two towns began pondering a rail link as a possible solution. Eugen Lange (1833-1895), a highly creative engineer from Cologne, Germany, was consulted. During the last three years of his life, Lange had developed an interest in the suspended monorail system idea as an offshoot to a suspended two-rope cable car. This idea was termed the "Schwebebahn" and could be easily implemented, since slanted steel supports could be erected on both river banks......However, the Schwebebahn's most peculiar accident occurred when "Tuffi" - a baby elephant from a performing circus - was given a free ride in the Schwebebahn. Instead of enjoying the ride and scenery, Tuffi panicked, broke the glass panes of the moving coach and landed in the Wupper River. Fortunately, Tuffi was only slightly injured. Apparently, no photos exist of the infamous "Tuffi accident," as the accompanying journalists were too stunned to take pictures. Here's the full story.