History of the SchafbergBahn

In the early 19th century, visitors still traveled by stagecoach to St. Wolfgang. The Romantic painters discovered the town as a source of artistic inspiration. Initially, noble citizens from Vienna were carried to the top of the Schafberg by palanquin. Old records show that palanquin carriers even formed a professional association with set prices, fixed standards and strict rules for the safety of the travelers. Later, plans for the construction of a cogwheel railway started to develop.

In 1872, Berthold Currant planned a railway from Winkl near St. Gilgen to the top of the Schafsberg. He sought to build a mountain railway in order to increase tourist traffic on the Wolfgangsee. Alas, Currant´s efforts were not met with success.

It was only in 1890 and as part of the concession for another local railway that approvals for a cog line from St. Wolfgang to the Schafberg were formally granted. As a result, the SKGLB - Salzkammergut Lokalbahn Gesellschaft (Salzkammergut Local Railway Company) was established.

Engineering and construction work was carried out by the company Stern & Hafferl. The work began in April 1892 under the direction of Ing. Eugen Sooss. 350 workers, most of them from Italy, worked on building the railway. Material and food had to be carried up and down the mountain by hordes of mules. Severe weather and extreme temperatures briefly interrupted progress during the winter of 1892/93.




In early 1893, the first steam locomotive (Z1) for the Schafberg was delivered in unassembled condition. The components had been manufactured by Krauss in Linz. On 28 March, an initial test run to Aschingergut took place. Finally, the first train reached the summit on 31 July 1893.  The very next day, the line was ceremoniously inaugurated.

In 1932, the railway was quasi-nationalized and sold to the Austrian Tourist Office. In 1938, assets were transferred to the Deutsche Reichsbahn, before finally, after World War II, ÖBB took over.

After ÖBB decided to sell-off various tourist lines around Austria, both the SchafbergBahn and the WolfgangseeSchifffahrt were transferred to the regional stakeholder Salzburg AG in 2006, which set up the new subsidiary Salzkammergutbahn GmbH (SKGB) in order to operate all of the touristic services on both the Wolfgangsee and the Schafberg. 

Since their introduction in the early 1990s, the modern, oil-fired steam locomotives have transported the majority of passengers to the summit. The original, coal-fired steam locomotives from the 1890s have been successfully preserved and several of them remain in operating condition. They are now amongst the oldest working steam locomotives in the world and are allocated to public trains during the peak season from July to September.