1897: Wuppertal Suspension Electric Railway by Eugen Langen

The Wuppertaler Schwebebahn (Wuppertal Suspension Railway) is a suspension railway in Wuppertal, Germany. Its original name is Einschienige Hängebahn System Eugen Langen (Monorail overhead conveyor system Eugen Langen).
  • It is the oldest electric elevated railway with hanging cars in the world and is a unique system in Germany.
  • In 1887 the cities of Elberfeld and Barmen formed a commission for the construction of an elevated railway or Hochbahn.
  • In 1894 they chose the system of the engineer Eugen Langen of Cologne, and in 1896 the order was licensed by the City of Düsseldorf.
  • Designed by Eugen Langen, the installation with elevated stations was built in Barmen, Elberfeld and Vohwinkel between 1897 and 1903; the first track opened in 1901.
  • Wuppertal Suspension Railway
Eugen Langen
Eugen Langen.jpg

1833-1895

Carl Eugen Langen was a German entrepreneur, engineer and inventor, involved in the development of the petrol engine and the Wuppertal Suspension Railway.
  • In 1857 he worked in his father's sugar factory, JJ Langen & Söhne, and after extensive technical training at the Polytechnic institute in Karlsruhe, patented a method for producing sugar cubes.
  • In 1864, Langen met Nicolaus August Otto who was working to improve to the gas engine invented by Belgian Etienne Lenoir.
  • The technically-trained Langen recognized the potential of Otto's development, and one month after the meeting, founded the first engine factory in the world, NA Otto & Cie.
  • At the 1867 Paris World Exhibition, their improved engine received the Grand Prize.
  • In the field of rail transport equipment, Langen was co-owner and engineer of the Cologne Waggonfabrik van der Zypen & Charlier.
    • He started the suspension railway system in Wuppertal in 1894.
NOTE: Eugen Langen died in 1895. Construction activities did not start until, at least, 1897. Poor guy never got to see what he designed. Sounds familiar?

Construction
Per the narrative, the construction of this suspension electric railway started some time in, or after 1897. Let's see if we can find any photographs of the construction process. Here is what I was able to find.
  • Employees of construction companies for a souvenir photo in 1898 as a part of the car was suspended in the station Varresbeck.
Schwebebahn-construction2.jpg

Source
  • Construction of the monorail around 1899 in the amount Wall/Schloßbleiche. A scaffold portion is transported to the prepared site on the Islandufer.
Schwebebahn-construction3.jpg

Source
  • Construction of the station Alexanderbrücke in 1898 (now Ohligsmühle).
Schwebebahn-construction4.jpg

Source
  • Construction of the Schwebebahn, 1900
Schwebebahn-construction.jpg

Source
KD: Well, basically, that's it. I am not sure if any of the above photographs could qualify for being called construction photographs. What do you think?

Photographs of this Schwebebahn
These will not be in any particular chronological order. I simply google-searched for the photographs of this contraption. If you need links, please help yourself.

Schwebebahn-construction-1-15.jpg

Wuppertal-2-2.jpg

Wuppertal-2-1.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-2.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-8.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-1.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-3.jpg

In 1950, a three-year-old elephant named Tuffi was forced to ride a public monorail in Wuppertal, Germany. The animal was loaded aboard as a promotion for the Althoff Circus. This ride was supposed to be a lighthearted affair, but the world quickly learned that pachyderms and monorails simply do not mix.

Schwebebahn-construction-1-4.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-6.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-7.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-9.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-10.jpg


Today
The railway line is credited with growth of the original cities and their eventual merger into Wuppertal. The Schwebebahn is still in use as a normal means of local public transport, moving 25 million passengers annually, per the 2008 annual report. New rail cars were ordered in 2015, called Generation 15, and the first new car went into service in December 2016.
  • The Schwebebahn runs along a route of 13.3 kilometres (8.3 mi), at a height of about 12 metres (39 ft) above the River Wupper between Oberbarmen and Sonnborner Straße (10 kilometres or 6.2 miles) and about 8 metres (26 ft) above the valley road between Sonnborner Straße and Vohwinkel (3.3 kilometres or 2.1 miles).
Schwebebahn-construction-1-11.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-13.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-12.jpg

Schwebebahn-construction-1-14.jpg


KD: Well, this is what we get from the PTB. Why would they need something like this in 1890s? Did their population numbers support the need for such a contraption? I could see something like this being built to avoid traffic congestion on the ground, but we are not aware of any “rush hours” back then.
  • Could this be one additional example of the technology belonging to some phantom (19th century) time period we are not allowed to know about?
 

Atlantis

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The engineer who is credited for building this remarkable elevated train developed the first petrol engine and yet the motive power seems to be electric in nature as there are no exhaust pipes, radiators etc that one would find in an engine of that type and instead looks like an electric motor. There is a ground tram in one of the photos and I would guess that it was an electric powered one too. So an engineer who developed the first petrol engine in Germany and made a factory producing petrol engines used electric to power this design. This story does not make sense. Instead the electric power was switched from an existing electrical generation power plant that existed before to power this elevated train. Seeing the horse and buggies next to this engineering marvel is eye boggling.
 
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  • jd755

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    The reason electric motors are used is their innate torque allows for fine smooth acceleration of the trams and they act as a positive braking force and do this without gearboxes.
     

    Atlantis

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    The reason electric motors are used is their innate torque allows for fine smooth acceleration of the trams and they act as a positive braking force and do this without gearboxes.
    Yes but why would a developer of petrol engines be involved with electric motors?
     

    jd755

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    Unless I am very much mistaken the flexible pipe in this image has an air filter on it.

    2021-02-23 17.13.44 schwebebahn.de 09c55d76b9c9.jpg

    Perhaps as originally designed the electricity came from an onboard petrol engine that ran a dynamo to send power to the traction motors. Or the image really is a prototype and they discovered through practical testing that a noisy smelly petrol engine running in each car would not endear the trams to the paying public so switched to live rail. I don't know obviously but it makes sense.
     
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    Technical aspects are interesting, but... did that society have any reasons to even start thinking about building something like that.

    And just when I thought that a horse car concept was the most ridiculous one, the PTB gifted us with this gem:
    • The Wuppertaler Schwebebahn had a forerunner.
    • In 1824, Henry Robinson Palmer of Britain presented a railway system which differed from all previous constructions.
    • It was a low single-rail suspension railway on which the carriages were drawn by horses.
    What’s the real age of this tech?
     

    jd755

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    Actually that British single rail is more believable, not the right word but best I can do, as it has an inherent flaw in it. The load it would carry has to be perfectly balanced for the toothed wheels to engage with the toothed rail. Believable in that it predates the German monorail as there the balancing has been figured out so the load is actually directly under the track and probably counter balanced by the driving motors weight.
    The British one has the same problem as the Chinese single wheel wheelbarrow cart thing which we are told was able to carry two people side by side. Well if one got off they would have to counterbalance the weight of the other perfectly for the man pushing to handle the thing so it seems doubtful or artistic licence.

    2021-02-23 18.35.37 upload.wikimedia.org 8ff2fd344031.jpg

    As I've said on a few occasions we are being dumbed down by a reliance on computer/digital tech and have no comprehension of how skilful and free thinking our forebears were. I see a line of progression from the British system to the German one but find it incredulous that the British inventor and or builder did not see and experience the flaw and work to figure it out unless that system was designed to move large volumes of the exact same things from A to B over an extended period of time, say into and out of a warehouse for example.
     
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    The necessity can push people to compete, get educated and invent. That I can agree on.

    Unfortunately, I do not see the necessity as it could pertain to this suspension train. The contraption was clearly designed to unload the streets while simultaneously accommodating the ground traffic. As far as we know, there was no ground traffic of such magnitude. At least I am not aware of any.

    Problems tend to produce solutions. Some solutions cannot solve the issues they were designed to solve, some can.
    • Would we have some of the existing possible solutions without the problems these solutions are meant to solve?
    • In the below case, if there was no traffic problems to solve, would we have any of these designs?

    As far as building suspended railways in 1820s... it’s not so much the design of the thing that I find ridiculous. It’s the “why” portion, that I do not understand. What’s the purpose? Was there a need to conceive the design, and if there was, what was it?

    And of course, year 1824 was followed by 1897. That’s like 73 years of technological procrastination, as far as this design goes.
     

    jd755

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    Done a bit of digging into this British monorail and here's what I found.

    Apparently there was one built at the Dockyard in Deptford by Henry Palmer between 1821 and 1825.
    The earliest patent was taken out by Henry Palmer in the UK in 1821, and the design was employed at Deptford Dockyard in South-East London,
    However another two sites has it at Woolwich Arsenal.
    The British engineer Henry Robinson Palmer (1795–1844) filed a patent application for a horse-drawn suspended single-rail system in 1821, and constructed a demonstration at Woolwich Arsenal, in England, United Kingdom soon afterwards.
    Woolwich Arsenal Monorail
    The world’s first monorail system was in operation across the Lea Valley in 1825 In 1816 the Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield.
    There is nothing more I could find on the Woolwich/Deptford monorail but the other one built in 1825, assuming mainstream timelines was called the Cheshunt Railway and it seems it was designed to carry bricks perfect for the balance, however apparently it also carried passengers which seems odd as the distance it travelled was short but perhaps even back then people would pay to ride a novelty.
    Did you know that Cheshunt had a railway three months before the Stockton and Darlington line was opened?

    This was a horse-drawn monorail, built by Henry Robinson Palmer, who had previously built one in Deptford Dockyard, the first in the UK. The Cheshunt Railway, his second venture, was opened on 26th June 1825, running from Mr Gibbs’ Brick Pit, to the west of Gews Corner, to a wharf on the River Lea, not far from the site of the current Cheshunt Station. Its original purpose was to haul bricks, but it was also utilised for carrying passengers. For such a short distance, it must have been principally a novelty; regardless of this, it was the first passenger monorail in the world.

    The design was an overhead track from which carriages were suspended, drawn by a single horse. The line crossed the main road by a section hinged like a gate, enabling it to be moved off the road.

    No idea who did this drawing or when or how accurate it is but it does show the amount of 'freight cars' a horse could pull.

    MonorailCheshunt.jpg
    Having a horse pull bricks from the factory to the river loading jetty using a rail makes sense from the ergonomic angle. A single horse could pull a bigger volume of bricks with a rail/earth taking the weight of them than it could pulling a cart.
    Also worth noting the weather would have much less effect on the movement of the bricks by rail.

    Apparently in 1826 a German built one in the Wupper Valley to Palmers specs to move stuff to and from steelworks. It connected certain works but not all so it was never instigated beyond a demonstration site.
    In 1826 German railway pioneer Friedrich Harkort had a demonstration track of Palmer's system built by his steel factory in Elberfeld, one of the main towns in the early industrialised region of the Wupper Valley.
    Source the wiki link above.

    Again though I find it incredulous that with the Palmer system being trialed in 1826 it took almost fifty year before the Wuppertal appeared. It's as though someone put the designs in a cupboard and forgot about them only for someone else to find them and turn them into the Wuppertal.
    Except they bear no relation to each other beyond the use of a single track. Even their stated purpose is different.

    Could people be putting two and two together to get five?
    I cannot envisage a German industrialist who could see the advantages of Palmers system to move the same stuff over and over again fail to develop it and construct or at least draw up an improved version.

    As ever the dates stuck to these things make no sense.
    Did they have the ability in the 1820's to design and manufacture this thing, my take would be yes.
    Would they make the leap from the Palmer design to the Wuppertal design instantly, my take would be no.
    Is there something missing, most definitely.
    Could be dates, could be drawings/designs or another test track or two that no-one knows about or are sitting on the information to keep the narrative alive.

    EDIT to add: It becomes even more incredulous when the Frederich Harkott is this chap!

    As in 1824 the British engineer Henry Robinson Palmer presented a monorail , in which hanging transport containers were pulled by horses, Harkort had such a train built through his factory in Elberfeld on a trial basis in 1826 . Together with Bergrat Heintzmann, he tried to interest the public in this forerunner, but this was only reflected in the construction of the Wuppertal suspension railway 75 years later .

    Harkort's considerations as an entrepreneur were mainly focused on long-distance transport, because in 1829 Harkort's company already had a production capacity of one million pounds of rails for the local mining industry .
     

    jd755

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    A little bit more on the German version of Palmers railway. No way this bloke did not develop the Palmer railway over the following years.
    In 1825, F. Harkort published the call to build a railway between Cologne on the Rhine and Minden on the Weser in number 26 of the magazine "Hermann". What is less well known is that this railway pioneer had a monorail set up on a trial basis in Elberfeld (which is now a district of Wuppertal) through his factory in 1826 after the English engineer Henry Robinson Palmer had presented such a train in 1824, with the hanging transport containers of horses were drawn. Together with Bergrat Heintzmann, Friedrich Harkort tried to interest the public in this forerunner, but this only bore fruit three generations later with the construction of the Wuppertal suspension railway .
     
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    Take it or leave it but it does sort of address the “why.”
    The video was definitely interesting. Challenges building regular roads over the described terrain sound pretty plausible. The narrative explains it differently though:
    • The suspension railway of Elberfeld was built over the canal in order to keep the streets unobstructed.
    • Elberfeld - Wikipedia
    I also do not see any issues with roads on the below maps. After all, Wuppertal was formed by having two (or four) somewhat old industrial cities merged together.
    1889
    elberfeld-barmen.jpg

    Source

    1896
    1896-elberfeld-1.jpg

    Source

    1886
    1886 - barmen.jpg

    Source

    1896
    1896 - barmen.jpg

    Source

    Additionally, the Wuppertal suspended railway (allegedly constructed 1897-1901) is claimed to be the first one in operation. At least that's what we are being told.

    Of course, 11 years prior in 1886, there was the so-called Enos Electric Railway. Allegedly, no major system was ever built, or so they say.

    enos-electric.jpg
    • The Enos Electric Railway, the first suspended monorail, was tested and demonstrated on the grounds of the Daft Electric Company in Greenville, New Jersey in 1886.
    • It was built of light, open steelwork rather than massive wooden beams that most monorails to this point had used.
    • The Greenville demonstration attracted considerable publicity in the press, but no major system was ever built.
    • The design may have influenced Eugen Langen in Germany, as the Enos Monorail bears a remarkable likeness to the Wuppertal Schwebebahn in Germany.
    • Source
    We are being told:
    Could the above railway be a brand new test segment? I guess it could, but was it brand new, or was it a portion of a pre-existing one?

    rl-5.jpg

    15 sections of this ordinance do not mean much without any proof of a suspended railway being opened for everyday business, but it's definitely more than what widely available sources of today have to say.


    KD: They needed to keep their streets unobstructed. What was obstructing their streets prior to 1897?

    What's Missing?
    Normally, the process of building things like these is pretty straight forward. We have a period of research, a period of development, and then a period of construction. And what do we have?
    • For R&D we have: Mr. X, or Mr. Y invented this or that. Where is the R&D?
    But as far as construction goes, we are doing just fine:
    Who needs R&D, right?
     
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  • Atlantis

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    Having been
    The video was definitely interesting. Challenges building regular roads over the described terrain sound pretty plausible. The narrative explains it differently though:
    • The suspension railway of Elberfeld was built over the canal in order to keep the streets unobstructed.
    • Elberfeld - Wikipedia
    I also do not see any issues with roads on the below maps. After all, Wuppertal was formed by having two (or four) somewhat old industrial cities merged together.

    Additionally, the Wuppertal suspended railway (allegedly constructed 1897-1901) is claimed to be the first one in operation. At least that's what we are being told.

    Of course, 11 years prior in 1886, there was the so-called Enos Electric Railway. Allegedly, no major system was ever built, or so they say.

    • The Enos Electric Railway, the first suspended monorail, was tested and demonstrated on the grounds of the Daft Electric Company in Greenville, New Jersey in 1886.
    • It was built of light, open steelwork rather than massive wooden beams that most monorails to this point had used.
    • The Greenville demonstration attracted considerable publicity in the press, but no major system was ever built.
    • The design may have influenced Eugen Langen in Germany, as the Enos Monorail bears a remarkable likeness to the Wuppertal Schwebebahn in Germany.
    • Source
    We are being told:
    Could the above railway be a brand new test segment? I guess it could, but was it brand new, or was it a portion of a pre-existing one?

    15 sections of this ordinance do not mean much without any proof of a suspended railway being opened for everyday business, but it's definitely more than what widely available sources of today have to say.


    KD: They needed to keep their streets unobstructed. What was obstructing their streets prior to 1897?

    What's Missing?
    Normally, the process of building things like these is pretty straight forward. We have a period of research, a period of development, and then a period of construction. And what do we have?
    • For R&D we have: Mr. X, or Mr. Y invented this or that. Where is the R&D?
    But as far as construction goes, we are doing just fine:
    Who needs R&D, right?
    In chemical engineering research I was involved in it was much easier to back engineer materials: to take an existing material, test it and create a similar product. Research into new materials and new forms of transportation like aerial tram engineering I suppose is much easier if a system is already in place that can be studied and copied or enlarged. I am guessing that this aerial tram was in existence when the new order took over, and they modified it but left the main engineering technics in place. R&D is time-consuming and requires testing equipment.
     
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    Well, I have never reverse engineered anything, only disassembled and reassembled (mostly successfully). So, I will take your word for it 🤓. I have no doubt that it's very different from actually inventing something.


    I found a better quality image and an article (p. 353) about the Cheshunt Suspension Railway dated with 1825.
    • I am not sure this thing makes much sense. It looks like an amusement ride. Even spectators are out.
    • What's that horse walking on, by the way?

    cheshunt-dr.jpg

    Reminded me of this: from here.

    horsecar_1_3.jpg


    Then we have this 1830 description of the system allegedly invented by Maxwell Dick.
    • The book was supposed to have engravings, but I did not see any.
    I am not sure if sketches are the same, but here they are on page 257 of the 1830 Mechanic's Magazine.
    • Sure like the first paragraph.
    maxwell-dick-1.jpg

    maxwell-dick-2.jpg
     

    jd755

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    There are definitely cranes of some sort in the background of the construction photograph.

    2021-02-23 22.23.47 collections.mnhs.org ad3b2bce34fc.jpg

    The horse is crossing a stream on a plank bridge something a horse and cart could not do. To me this little snippet is prime anecdotal evidence that places the drawing as a contemporary or shortly after the event or at worst within the lifetime of the engraver who had actually seen a horse using a plank bridge.

    The problem we face when looking at anything older than us is we are trained to use contemporary methods. So R&D must be done documented and photographed, in the open or released once the thing being developed goes on sale or into use. Unless of course its a large corporation or the military, not much difference these days.
    Truth is most inventors never develop their own inventions. They lose interest in them as soon as they prove to themselves they have created something that solves the problem that they set out to solve, I know from the experience of working with a friend on a couple of projects. Through this experience I discovered that inventors often invent the problem itself. When that penny dropped it was a freaky feeling I can tell you.

    Back to the monorails... ENOS this time.

    English: Drawing of a car of the Enos Electric Railway system proposed for Winthrop, Massachusetts in 1885. By 1886, the system was ready to construct, with finances and property acquisition completed. However, the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad bought the struggling Boston, Winthrop & Shore, and the Enos Electric plans were quickly buried. circa 1886 622 Enos Electric Railway
    Checking through wiki and other sites confirmed the buy out. Seems a classic asset stripping action that appears time and again in commerce that continues today.
    The designer of the Railway was Leo Daft
    The Enos Electric Railway, the first suspended monorail, was tested and demonstrated on the grounds of the Daft Electric Company in Greenville, New Jersey in 1886
    Leo was born in Britain and emigrated to the United States and at least had an engineering background and the change of discipline sounds reasonable.
    Leo Daft was the son of Thomas B. Daft (1816-1878) and Emma Matilda Sturges (1814-1863). Thomas Daft, an engineer, ran Daft and Co, makers of greenhouses, conservatories, etc. In 1858, Leo was a draughtsman for the company. He became interested in electrical engineering, and emigrated to New York City in 1866. In 1867 he was in Philadelphia and took up photography, and then opened a studio in New York City in 1869, In 1871 he married Catherine Anna Flansbaugh (1843-1917). He relocated his studio to Troy, New York. In 1878, he embarked on a career in electric light and power generation, undertaking major work in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and New Jersey. He built one of the first electric locomotives
    So prior to moving the cars to the overhead rail system he had invented and constructed this machine and its power system to replace horses in situations where the inclines meant they wouldn't cope. Ergo he figured out how to use the torque and braking power inherent in electric traction.

    And look at the machine. Elegant decorated slight easy on the eye yet all its doing is pulling a car full of people up and down unlike today where such things are frowned upon and its utility only that matter and its 'carbon footprint'!

    Im189908Cass-Dafts.jpg

    The reason for posting so much about Leo is his progression from an electric tug pulling streetcars on a third live rail (which only ran for three years due to some other chap inventing overhead wiring) to an overhead track powered either by a live rail or wire took just three years which is the bit that is missing in the German example. Yes we are looking at different motive power in Leo's case of electric motor not horses but to my mind the comparison is valid.
    Edit to add: Your navigation of googlebooks is impressive to say the least but to me the story is of more use than the image Seems they basically dropped some seats into the brick carriers which they ballasted with bricks, hence my earlier point about the inbuilt flaw of perfect balance.
    The line crossed open country on a level plane which demonstrates surveying skill and knowledge of the earth and euclidan geometry, the description of the horses efforts supports the level plane.
    The rail can easily be levelled by a system of wedges allowing for slight movements in the supporting system due to weather or ground drying/wetting. Really good engineering.
    From that description this system was designed to do a specific job better than the existing alternatives and it succeeded. The carrying of passengers is theatre to show off. There is a little ham in everyone.

    Once more left with the feeling that the German chap would have been the one to develop this system and put it into use in the Wupper valley which was a large area of similar industry where such a system of movement would have been of great profit. For one thing one horse and driver could do the work of three or four horse carts and driver so there are clear economies on offer.

    2021-02-24 10.08.21 www.google.com a676293adba2.jpg

    2021-02-24 10.09.11 www.google.com 6ed7bf510d83.jpg
     
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    Atlantis

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    Why the impetus for aerial trams? The ground after a severe reset rain of mud, water, sand and a bit of gravel became waterlogged and unstable. To build a solid base to run a normal train became impossible as the weight of a train is extreme especially with loaded cars. People transport is not as heavy as trains pulling cargo such as coal, manufactured goods, wood, etc so you would have more leeway to design a suspension system to transport people. A post system would only work well if the post could be placed into the ground that existed before the deluge. Here in Chapel Hill, NC the depth was about 11 feet so if this system was to be used the hole would have to be 16 feet or more. As the ground dried the need for aerial transport would be diminished and regular surface transport would be efficient and vastly cheaper to implement.
     
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    Why the impetus for aerial trams? The ground after a severe reset rain of mud, water, sand and a bit of gravel became waterlogged and unstable.
    While I was thinking about economy related reasons, this one totally avoided me. Would be interesting to see if we could find any evidence of the area being excessively waterlogged at the time. The video above somewhat hints at that, but I did not think of it as a possible temporary issue.
     
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  • jd755

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    Leaving aside the reset theory taking people or freight transport into the air frees whatever it was formerly travelling on for other uses. In a town or city the road becomes less congested. On a river or waterway the same applies. It also allows the transportation to go more direct routes from A to B with much less effort, expense and infrastructure when compared to road and rail track constructions. It is far more effective to engineer the uneven land level with an aerial track on pillars than it is to do so with groundwork solutions that roads and rail rely on.

    I've pushed things on rails and things on tyres and it is truly astonishing to realise just how much weight a single human, me, can get moving on the former as opposed to the latter. Keeping it moving takes very little effort in both cases but significantly more in the case of tyres.
    Crossing wet ground is either done by an earth embankment with the road rail or canal on the embankment or by a bridging structure of pillars and track road or canal. The difference in build time and remedial works to allow the structures to go up is vast. This would to my mind be the perfect driver to establish the latter if at all possible and only use the embankments where it is impossible.

    Edit to add
    Round here there are still standing today limestone pillars of an overhead tramway that was built to move iron Ore across country where the roads were not present. They cross fields today and likely fields when they went up in the late 1800's. The motive power was an endless rope going around electric motor or steam driven pulley's and the thing survived in operation until the mine was mined out. It was reliable safe unaffected by any weather and didn't require a labour force of drivers horses and carts to operate it.
     
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    Sounds reasonable, but if it was such a great solution, we would have seen these aerial railways popping up all over the place. This area in Germany is by far not a unique one.
     

    jd755

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    I quite agree but do bear in mind how the crappiest solution is usually the one that gains traction even today. How often today do we bemoan the quality of products or the lifespan or their efficacy?
    Cars of today do not travel that much further on a gallon of petrol than they did when the first petrol engined cars appeared despite decades and decades of R&D done by huge numbers of people in many fields and now there are so many of the things and they have gotten so bloody big in width, length and weight they spend a lot of time idling their engines in congestion yet this is lauded as 'freedom'.
    Quite bizarre were it the only example but they are legion.

    Clearly there is a vested interest somewhere in keeping this sort of crap running and to my mind it goes way beyond simple commercial opportunities and my guess is its been the case since the invention of commerce which again to my mind is likely came into being when authority outside of us came into being and is a reset worthy of the label.

    Efficiency is an odd cove as it seems to always be the thing sacrificed on the altar of vested interest. Coal mines for example and the people who benefit from having mines on 'their land' worked to expand the use of coal and steam to further their own interests and keep down any competing interest. Electric trams were fine but electric locomotive power struggled to get going. For traction purposes electric motors are hard to beat but despite that everywhere it appeared in cars, scooter, trucks, buses even boats it never seemed to get going always because some other interest didn't want them to. Oil interests being the one that prevented electric road vehicles from becoming ubiquitous and the oil industry led to the pharmaceutical industry beating down the natural at home remedies.
    As today they beat down on anarchy as in being without government aka ones innate authority by making it appear government by outside authority is the best option in spite of all the decade upon decade of evidence it is anything but.

    So having systems that just work and go on working with very little effort or maintenance for decades is of no use to vested interests which require consumers to use and discard and I feel it was no different in the previous two centuries hence the most effective get bought up and sidelined or parked in dead ends or simply get locked away inside the patent system, that is its true purpose you know to stifle development and ensure crap endures.
    There were aerial ropeways all over but their remains are scant. Remember the cashiers who worked from an office and the invoice and payment were zipped from the sale desk to the cashier and the receipt and change returned by an elaborate yet really simple wire system in many shops of old?
    The evidence for them has been completely eradicated in most of the shops it was installed but me being of a certain age has a memory of seeing them as a kid. My kids in their mid twenties have never seen them.
    All the other ropeways and tracks that were in this industrial part of the island have disappeared almost completely. The iron ore ropeway being the only one that is largely intact at least the pillars are. Everything invollved in the huge iron works, hoop works, steel works has vanished as has almost everything involved in the unbelievable railway infrastructure that served the industries of the area.

    We seem to have gone from a time where problems were solved then the solutions developed an perfected by a combination of use/experience and insight to one where the computer says so or it doesn't happen well within my lifetime of sixty years. Which again begs the question where are the missing monorails between Palmers effort and Wuppertals system?
     

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