The “Drachenfels Tourismus Bahnhof” – more than just an aged train
The Railway Station “You are entering historic ground!”
It’s not a sign but the old, newly restored steam locomotive manufactured in 1927 which greets the visitors in front of the entrance. Marvel at it, feel it – this old iron is history to touch.
Indoors, the track area – the heart of the station – is dominated by the elaborately restored quarry stone wall. From here, all ground floor sections of the valley station – from the station concourse to the workshop – are visible through glass partitions.
With this open view, architect Michael C. Deisenroth’s vision of a “workshop with glass gates” has come true.
In addition, historic advertising placards contrast pleasantly with modern marketing activities of local companies. They remind of Ferdinand Mülhens, the former owner and benefactor of the “Bergbahnen im Siebengebirge AG” which is still in the hands of the family today.
The Station Concourse
The station concourse is both, museum and info point. In addition to presenting many exhibits on the “Seven Hills”, it makes the history of the Drachenfelsbahn come alive.
Motion pictures, original items from the store of the railway workshop and remnants from over 100 years’ service of the cog railway tell of the Siebengebirge and the Drachenfelsbahn then and now.
The offices, accommodation services and tourist information of the Tourismus Siebengebirge GmbH (Tourism Seven Hills Ltd.) are located in the station concourse and its extension. Here, the visitor will also find a small bistro.
The Upper Floor
1925: The Drachenfels is lined with vineyards. The cog railway passes the Drachenburg (the Dragon’s Castle), the castle bailey and the castle courtyard.
It’s not a picture telling of this old story, but an authentic model with a size of about ten to three metres which makes not only the children’s eyes sparkle.
Info points on a variety of interesting topics relating to the Siebengebirge and the Drachenfels demonstrate the diversity of this unique region.
The “Drachenfels Tourismus-Bahnhof” – here, waiting is fun.
The History of the Drachenfelsbahn 1882 - 1888
The Deutsche Lokal- und Straßenbahngesellschaft (German District and Tramway Company) embarks on the construction of the Drachenfelsbahn (Dragon Rock Railway) according to the plans of engineer Riggenbach. A total mass of 23,000 cubic metres of earth must be moved. 4,537 cubic metres of mortar masonry and 1,211 cubic metres of dry masonry must be built. Costs of approx. 617,000 Marks are incurred until the Drachenfelsbahn is put into service on 17th July 1883.
In these few months (127 days of service), the Drachenfelsbahn transports a total of 62,480 passengers.
Following the successful launch of the Drachenfelsbahn, the Petersberg is also developed by building a cog railway. This is completed in April 1889 and is quite successful at first. However, due to the later construction of a road to the top of the Petersberg and the poor accessibility of the valley station, its popularity fades at the beginning of the 20th century. The operation of the Petersberg cog railway is discontinued in 1958.
Ferdinand Mülhens, owner of “4711 – Eau de Cologne”, purchases the railway business from the Deutsche Lokal- und Straßenbahngesellschaft.
By authority of the Reichsbahndirektion (State Railway management), the Petersberg and the Drachenfels cog railways are amalgamated under the name “Bergbahnen im Siebengebirge” (Mountain Railways in the Seven Hills).
The beginning of World War II has great impact on the operation of the railways. But despite major restrictions during the years of the war, the service is never discontinued. After the war, homecoming prisoners of war and local helpers restore the mountain railways to their original state.
After a period of 72 years, electrically driven locomotives gradually replace the steam engines. On the Drachenfels, however, the latter remain in service until 1960.
The valley station is extensively rebuilt and renovated. Concrete, steel and quarry stone walls give it its characteristic features, which it has retained until today.
A new type of roof design, open to the sides, protects the visitors from wind and weather.
The modernisation of the electrically driven locomotives begins. The work is completed in 2001.
The city of Königswinter and the Bergbahnen im Siebengebirge AG are planning to rebuild the valley station into a combined railway station, tourist information and exhibition centre. In just three months, architect Michael C. Deisenroth designs a concept uniting these three elements under one roof. The “Drachenfels Tourismus-Bahnhof” (Dragon Rock Tourism Station) is born on paper.
The rebuilding and renovation work begins. A total budget of 1.97 million Euro is available for the modification, the sum being equally shared between the Bergbahnen im Siebengebirge AG and the Federal Republic of Germany (within the scope of the “Bonn-Berlin compensation”).
The modification has been completed. The “Drachenfels Tourismus-Bahnhof” opens its gates to the general public under the patronage of Federal Secretary Wolfgang Clement.