The first cable-car in Switzerland

The old cable-car station on the Wetterhorn in Switzerland

These days, many of the tourist destinations at higher altitudes in the Swiss alps are connected to the upper reaches of the surrounding mountains by transport systems. The fashion for getting up a mountain was triggered in the latter part of the nineteenth century, after climbers summited many of the famous peaks across the Alps.

The first of all the passenger-carrying cable-cars was built in Grindelwald. Work commenced in 1905, whilst the Jungfrau railway was being dug through the inside of the adjacent mountains. The Wetterhorn Aufzug (lift) was to take visitors from the upper reaches of the village to the very top of the Wetterhorn, over 2,500 metres above the valley floor.

The first section opened in 1908, taking 110 visitors per hour to the Enge mountain station and back on a system much the same as the modern cable-cars: two carrying cables, one safety cable and an independent safety braking system.

The Enge station was as high as they were ever to travel on this route, though. Despite its great popularity at the time, the service was closed in 1915 after the First World War caused tourism to all but cease. It never re-opened, but the Enge station remains to this day. It has since been renovated as a piece of heritage and is plainly visible on the cliffs next to the gorge of (what’s left of) the Upper Grindelwald Glacier.

The old cable-car station on the Wetterhorn in Switzerland

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