Rolling, running, and swimming technology has always been a fascinating thing, an even more so when it has long since been replaced by modern means of transport. Historical steam locomotives – heralded by thick clouds of smoke and deafening noise – pulling into the station are always accompanied by an air of nostalgia. Soon, there will be a shout of “Get on and shut the doors!” These historical trains carry passengers back to the times before the era of ICEs even now. The ancestors of floating skyscrapers can be visited as well since North Rhine-Westphalia also has a museum dedicated to the history of inland shipping. On top of this, the Wuppertal suspension railway keeps on going now as it always has.
A unique feature
The Wuppertal suspension railway
The Wuppertal Suspension railway is an industrial monument, the city’s most famous landmark, and its most important means of local transport in one. Even now, passengers can travel from station to station suspended eight to twelve meters above river or land on this technological marvel inaugurated as a “single-rail suspension railway” back in 1901. From 2024 onwards, visitors will again be able to enjoy an authentic impression of the early years of operation by taking a ride in “Wuppertal’s floating parlour”: The nostalgic Kaiserwagen is a replica of the car that took Emperor Wilhelm II and his wife Auguste Victoria on a test ride back in 1900. Today, couples can even get married in the floating imperial carriage.
Letting off steam
Riding historical locomotives
One museum in Bochum-Dahlhausen covers an impressive area of around 46,000 square metres – and it has to, to fit its exhibits: More than 120 rail vehicles are on display at the Eisenbahnmuseum Bochum , bringing more than 150 years of railway history back to life. Nostalgic locomotives can be found here side by side with distinctive passenger and freight cars and historical facilities such as the engine shed, water tower, and coaling station. Regular themed tours give visitors the opportunity to hop on and ride along on the nostalgic trains to visit historical sites such as coal mines and steel mills as well.
The impressive exhibits in the Lokschuppen Erkrath include the steam storage locomotive named “Emma”, the “diesel locomotive Köf II”, and an old Henkel freight car parked on the historical platform. The listed engine shed dating back to 1864, where the locomotives of the Bergisch-Märkische Eisenbahn used to be housed, also presents drawings, photos, and exhibits focusing on the railway line that connects Düsseldorf to Elberfeld. The steep route section between Erkrath and Hochdahl in particular, where the trains used to be pulled up by rope, formed a unique technical peculiarity.
Open every fourth Sunday from April to October, the museum is used for cultural events such as exhibitions, concerts, and a Christmas market on other days.
The narrow-gauge light railways of the Selfkantbahn, one of the most important means of transport in the Lower Rhine region from 1900 to 1971, are also museum-grade equipment, but far from being ready to retire. Trains of the somewhat narrower railway type were used to access rural area around Geilenkirchen. Nostalgic rides are offered on the 5.5-kilometre-long line from the Schierwaldenrath station in Gangelt to the Gillrath station in Geilenkirchen now. The original steam trains of the Selfkantbahn run every Sunday and public holiday between Easter and the end of September. The workshop, engine shed, and the carriage hall are open for visitors during these times as well.
On the water
On the history of inland shipping
The Duisburg Binnenschifffahrtsmuseum is dedicated to the entire history of shipping, from the Stone Age to the present day. Two former swimming halls not only offer space for detailed models, but also for original exhibits. Highlights include a 1930 cargo sailing ship, the “Tjalk Goede Verwachting”, and a walk-on replica of an inland vessel called “Hermann” that serves as a play ship for children. The exhibitions teach many interesting facts about the development of transport techniques on rivers, from the dugout canoe to modern ships, focusing on the everyday work and life of the skippers and their families.