Schafbergbahn

History of the WolfgangseeSchifffahrt

Long before 1873, when the paddle steamer "Kaiser Franz Josef I." was launched as the first steamboat on the Wolfgangsee, the lake was already heavily traversed by other boat traffic. Mainly pilgrims were transported by small wooden vessels, so-called "Traunderln“, between Fürberg and St. Wolfgang.

In 1869 Berthold Currant, a local railway engineer, tried to secure a shipping license for the lake. He was aided in his efforts by Albert Pietz, the director of the Steyrermühl paper mill. In early 1873, the individual components for the “Kaiser” were delivered from Linz to Strobl. After local assembly took place, the steamer made its successful maiden voyage on 20 May 1873. This day is still recognized as the start of a new era on the Wolfgangsee.

 

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The first timetable offered four daily round-trips during the summer months. From Strobl to St. Gilgen the journey lasted about 45 minutes. Because these operations didn´t prove very profitable, mainly due to the short duration of the summer season, Currant pushed for the construction of a mountain railway to the top of the Schafberg. In 1886, Currant bought a screw steamer in Budapest, in order to boost capacity on the Wolfgangsee, or Abersee, as it was sometimes also referred to back then. This ship was named “Kaiserin Elisabeth” and launched on the lake in 1888. It remains in active service to this day!

It wasn´t until after the opening of the rack railway in 1893, that the shipping service also started to blossom. Through the years and during the first half of the 20th century there were numerous changes in ownership. Eventually the shipping service, together with the mountain railway, was nationalized and taken over by ÖBB. As such, the second half of the 20th century saw a real boom in tourism and considerable investment into the fleet.

Since April 2006, Salzburg AG has operated both the WolfgangseeSchifffahrt and the SchafbergBahn, integrating these famous attractions into its wider portfolio of regional transportation services.