So did it run from Fürth to Nuremberg or from Nuremberg to Fürth? Whichever way it was, Germany’s first railway, symbolised by the name of the steam engine the Adler or “Eagle”, first puffed its way along the six-kilometre track between Nuremberg and Fürth on 7 December 1835.
The maiden journey of the so-called Ludwigsbahn thus heralded a new era in transportation. The first engine was built at the Robert Stephenson locomotive factory in Newcastle (England) on behalf of the Ludwigs-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft, because at the time there were no German manufacturers. It was dismantled and delivered to Germany, where it was reassembled.
The train driver was an Englishman, too, by the name of William Wilson. He was paid a princely annual salary for guiding the iron stead with 40 HP over the tracks at a top speed of 23 kilometres an hour. At the time, doctors warned of the health hazards related to such high travelling speeds. Regrettably, the original Adler, the vital spark for Germany’s industrialisation, no longer exists.
In its stead, there is a replica of the legendary steam engine from 1952 in Nuremberg’s Railway Museum. A 1935 replica is even available for charter trips.