The International Steam Pages

Bashing the Iron Mountain - Part 2 Winter 1976

 Click here for Part 1 Summer 1971

I had heard about the Iron Mountain from other members of the Dorridge Travel Group in Indonesia in August 1975 and it was clear that it was by far the best remaining (real) steam experience in Western Europe even if the passenger trains had gone diesel and there were rumours that steam might not last much longer even on the ore trains. Fortunately, I had a long break (6 months would you believe) scheduled to start later that year between contracts at Universiti Sains (Science University) in Penang, Malaysia. So after spending more than a month bashing through Burma, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal (mainly in a tourist sense) my then wife and I flew into Athens from Delhi in early February 1976 and headed straight for Austria and Leoben in Upper Styria in particular. Of course, there was no internet in those days and such information as I had was well over 6 months old. Next day a Saturday, we went our separate ways - one of us on a commute to Vienna and back, the other up to Vordernburg. I had very few winter clothes, basically just a sheepskin coat bought cheaply in India.

I have to say that on arrival, things did not look good at all, there was absolutely no sign of any likely activity at all and nobody to ask what might happen. Almost immediately a railcar turned up with a fair number of skiers heading for the slopes above Präbichl and I jumped aboard, at least I could have a ride up the line. Among the crowd were half a dozen 'gentlemen' clearly of a certain persuasion and I quickly introduced myself and asked politely what they were doing; this was the Warwickshire Railway Society with Pete Kennard at the helm (he must have been dubbed Pol Pot rather later), they assured me that steam had been working all week and would work again on Monday and in the meantime they were going to see the narrow gauge steam operated line at Garsten on their way back to the UK. That was a very pleasant day out which I repeated the next day with my other half and I begged an extra day to take the pictures which appear below. After India it was horribly cold, of course, but youthful enthusiasm conquered the pain. I have often wished I had had more time on the line but in those long off days one had to compromise and one fabulous day out was a lot better than none. Shall we just say that as time went on I compromised less and less which is one of many reasons I am now writing this in a flat in Beijing.

0-6-2RT 97.210 at Präbichl

0-12-0RT 197.303 at Präbichl

The one rack diesel 2085.01

Very early morning just above Vordernberg Markt, note the lights on the front locomotive.

The (prior) portrait version of the shot above and the next train taken from the middle of a snowdrift.

Finally, the Iron Mountain in all its glory. The only way to get a classic landscape shot from fairly close in the poor light without any chance of using the zoom in the conditions was to shin up a tree and hang out when the train came. Sic transit gloria

Rob Dickinson