In the year 1864, the well-known geographer, Heinrich Keller, from Zurich, on ascending to the summit of the Righi Mountain, in the heart of Switzerland, discovered one of the finest panoramic displays of mountain scenery that he had ever witnessed. To his enthusiastic descriptions some lovers of nature in Zurich and Berne listened with much interest, and in the year 1865, Dr. Abel, Mr. Escher von der Luith, Aulic Councilor, Dr. Horner, and others, in connection with Keller himself, subscribed money to the amount of 2,000 marks ($500) for the purpose of building a hotel on the top of the mountain overlooking the view. This hotel was simple enough, being merely a hut such as is to be found in abundance in the Alps, and which are built by the German and Austrian Alpine Clubs. At present the old hotel is replaced by another and more comfortable building, which is rendered accessible by a railway that ascends the mountain. Mr. Riggenbach, director of the railway works at Olten, was the projector of this road, which was begun in 1869 and completed in 1871. Vitznau at Lucerne is the starting point. The ascent, which is at first gradual, soon increases one in four.
After a quarter of an hour the train passes through a tunnel 240 feet in length, and over an iron bridge of the same length, by means of which the Schnurtobel, a deep gorge with picturesque waterfalls, is crossed. At Station Freibergen a beautiful mountain scene presents itself, and the eye rests upon the glittering, ice-covered ridge of the Jungfrau, the Monk, and the Eiger. Further up is station Kaltbad, where the road forks, and one branch runs to Scheideck. At about ten minutes from Kaltbad is the so-called "Kanzli" (4,770 feet), an open rotunda on a projecting rock, from which a magnificent view is obtained. The next station is Stoffelhohe, from which the railroad leads very near to the abyss on the way to Righi-Stoffel, and from this point it reaches its terminus (Righi-Kulin) in a few minutes. This is 5,905 feet above the sea, the loftiest and most northern point of the Righi group.
FIG. 1. - STARTING POINT OF THE RIGHI RAILROAD.
FIG. 2. - THE RIGHI RAILROAD.
The gauge of this railroad is the same as that of most ordinary ones. Between the rails runs a third broad and massive rail provided with teeth, which gear with a cogwheel under the locomotive. The train is propelled upward by steam power, while in its descent the speed is regulated by an ingenious mode of introducing atmospheric air into the cylinder. The carriage for the passengers is placed in both cases in front of the engine. The larger carriages have 54 seats, and the smaller 34. Only one is dispatched at a time. In case of accident, the train can be stopped almost instantaneously.
FIG. 3. - NEW LOCOMOTIVE ON THE RIGHI RAILROAD.
We give herewith, from La Lumiere Electrique, several engravings illustrating the system. Fig. 1 shows the starting station. As may be seen on Figs. 2 and 3, the method selected for obtaining adhesion permits of ascending the steepest gradients, and that too with entire security.