Item of the week

Horse-drawn train

kolejka turystycznaThe first, and quite numerous, projects of railway transport in the Wieliczka salt mine were designed around the mid-19th century; however, they were never implemented because of the enormous costs of drift reconstruction. Only in 1857 did the board devise the first precise plan for this challenging enterprise and the first works commenced. In 1861 the first metal rails were installed and after that almost all transport in the mine was conducted by wagons with metal boxes or horses pulling platforms.

Tracks were not only used for salt transportation and tasks related to its production, as they turned out to be the perfect way to take a tour of the mine, unfortunately, available to only the noblest of visitors.

The presented train was manufactured in the 1870s for Emperor Franz Joseph I, who stayed in Krakow in 1880 and then intended to once again visit the Wieliczka mine. Later it was probably used by other celebrities. Four wagons of the train customised to be pulled by horses were preserved.

The wagons differed from each other by the structural details:

1. Biaxial wagon for 8 people — iron axes and wheels, chassis and body made of properly profiled wood. Four double seats covered with upholstery and embedded in chassis on pivots. The front and rear section equipped with wooden elongated bumpers and hooks. All painted green, padding painted grey. Sizes: wheel span = 800 mm, axes span = 470 mm, wheel diameter = 350 mm.

2. Biaxial wagon for 4 people – chassis and body made of properly profiled wood. Seats padded with red plush, with decorative fringes at the elbow-rests. The floor covered with red plush. The front section equipped with a safety device in the shape of a decorated frame preventing one from falling out. The rear and front sections were equipped with leather bumpers. All painted green and gold. During the renovation, inscriptions by craftsmen were discovered on the wood under the upholstery: “B. Gliselli nabijał, Kraków 16 1887” (Padded by B. Gliselli, Krakow 16 A.D. 1887), “Michał Waga, wybiłem 1887, Wieliczka, 26/6 (?)” (Padded by Michał Waga, A.D. 1887, Wieliczka, 26/6). Sizes: axes span = 830 mm, wheel span = 800 mm, wheel diameter = 380 mm.

 

 

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