11 tunnels, 24 bridges, 106 kilometres packed with curves: the construction of the Ruhr-Sieg Railway is a massive undertaking that pays off! Even before it is opened in 1861, new ironworks, rolling mills, ore mines and other businesses are built alongside the later line. Eventually, more than 120 freight trains a day are operated there. As a result, the mining and smelting industry in the Siegerland region benefits from considerably lower transport costs - with the price of hard coal alone dropping by two-thirds! - and a boost against the English competition. In turn, the iron ore shipments from the Siegerland start to bring the smelting works in the Ruhr District to full bloom. The access to smaller valleys by light and branch railways stimulates even remote industries and ensures the supply of the population in years of poor crops.

The amount of traffic on the Ruhr River Line is less significant. A particular success comes with the middle section between Düsseldorf and Hagen, opened in 1874: from the very beginning it substitutes the freight transport on the Ruhr in such a profound way that the boat services, which had been flourishing until then, collapse immediately. The "Obere Ruhrtalbahn" ("Upper Ruhr River Line") is designed primarily as a long-distance route from Hagen towards Kassel, but in the Neheim-Hüsten area it also provides momentum for local lime and steel industries. The construction of the German Wall makes it unattractive as a west-east axis. Recently, it has gained significance again – as a connection between the Ruhr area and the winter sports resorts of Winterberg and Willingen.

All railway travel destinations

On this Google map you can find all highlights and other destinations of the steel time travel from the category railway. So you can navigate and plan easily. Alternatively, you can download our overview map with all info as a PDF file.

Eisenbahnmuseum Bochum

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Signal box, water tower, turntable, roundhouse, coaling crane, plus some 100 partly operational historic locomotives, wagons and other rolling stock: the railway museum on the site of the former Bochum-Dahlhausen depot takes visitors back to a time when steam trains made the Ruhr Valley line from here to the Sauerland region a railway corridor for coal, iron, steel, lime and ores …

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Neanderthals, knights and electors: in keeping with the journey through different eras, the architecture of the Sauerland Museum combines a historic mansion from 1605 with a brand-new extension. Part of this "Museum and Cultural Forum South Westphalia" is an exhibition room on industrial history, featuring the Ruhr Valley Railway as a major link to the nearby Ruhr District …

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Sauerländer Kleinbahn

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Nostalgia is all around: the puffing of the steam engine, the wooden benches, the gentle rattling of the wheels. Yet small-scale railways like the „Sauerland narrow-gauge railway“ near Plettenberg embody the technical progress of yesteryear: they substitute the transport of goods with horse-drawn carts and push the small-scale iron industry in the narrow Sauerland valleys closer to the Ruhr-Sieg line and thus to the Ruhr District …

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KulturBahnhof Grevenbrück

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The station front of Grevenbrück in English Tudor style hints at it: once a lot of money was earned here – thanks to the railway. Only the construction of the Ruhr-Sieg line and the connection to the Ruhr District pave the way for mining the rich mineral deposits in neighbouring Meggen – particularly pyrites – on an industrial scale. Proof of this can also be found in the Siciliaschacht Mining Museum …

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The expanding network of the Bergisch-Märkische Eisenbahngesellschaft (Bergisch-Mark Railway Company) from the 1870s onwards makes it possible to travel by train along the Ruhr from source to mouth. A particular success comes with the middle section between Düsseldorf and Hagen. It connects the huge limestone deposits east of Ratingen with the Ruhr area and also provides access to all those industries that previously had to rely on Ruhr shipping only. The opening of the complete track in 1874 immediately puts an end to river transport, while the railway gains profitable market opportunities. As a result, Bochum-Dahlhausen becomes a hub for coal transport with its own railway depot …

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Ruhr-Sieg Railroad


11 tunnels, 24 bridges, 106 kilometres packed with curves: the construction of the Ruhr-Sieg Railway is a massive undertaking! Around Altena station, even the Lenne riverbed has to make way for the new track. All in all, the twisting course of the line severely limits the speed of the trains and exposes the rails to increased wear and tear. In addition, the tunnels require constant maintenance. The biggest hurdle is overcoming the watershed of the Sieg and Lenne rivers between Altenhundem and Kreuztal. Heavily loaded freight trains can only master it with the help of additional locomotives …

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