The cog railway.
An invention by Niklaus Riggenbach.He was born in 1817 in Alsace in Rünenberg Baselland (just behind the mountain of Trimbach, where I live). He worked as an engineer in Lyon, Paris, and Karlsruhe until he came to Olten around 1853. Olten was to become the railway town of Switzerland, construction of the Hauenstein line began (Basel-Olten; 1853) Here there were strong inclines to overcome (26 per mille) which worried Riggenbach. That is why he came up with the idea of installing a rack between the tracks, where a gear can intervene from the locomotive if the iron wheels slip on the rails.
One finally came out without a cog wheel at the Hauenstein, but there are much steeper mountains in Switzerland.
A railway line with gear operation looks like this.
The flatter parts can be used “normally”, the locomotives lower the gear into this middle track as needed.
This happens on the route from Lucerne to Engelberg am Titlis. This line has a normal gauge, no narrow gauge
The Pilatus can only be used in cogwheel operation.480 per mille or 48% incline!
Riggenbach’s factory still exists in Olten.
However, they have been quite diversified since then. Niklaus Riggenback died in Olten in 1899. The small town is still the most important railway junction in Switzerland. Despite hardly 20,000 inhabitants, the scent of the big wide world has been blowing here for a long time. One is a little more open to new things, which is not always appreciated in a canton with the motto “It has always been so!”
This can also be seen in the fact that there are quite a lot of foreigners, from everywhere, who seem to feel quite comfortable.You can quickly feel like an Oltner. Or as a citizen of the world. In a hurry you are over all the mountains. International express trains to Milan, Berlin, Amsterdam and elsewhere stop here, you can get to Zurich Airport in 45 minutes, without changing trains.
Alex Capus, our local bestselling author, can write about all these local peculiarities much more competently than I do.His books are certainly well known and are also typical of the region. Olten has always been a writer’s town. Cabaret, caricature – everything there! Every year there is a cabaret festival, the Oltner Cabaret Days (this year from 23 May to 2 June, the performances are quickly sold out)
Ah, yes!You have to eat something! But what is typical of the region?
Actually only one thing:
A hamburger from the traditional “Rathskeller” in the old town!This is where the whole region meets, it’s always bumsy. The original American hamburger is not a joke.The landlord is Swiss of descent, from an old Oltner family, but was born and raised in Houston, Texas. You can also get Irish and German beer there in the open-air dair. As I said. A little scent from the big wide world! I spent many hours talking to my friends in the American desert and Mexico.