Railway line Langelsheim – Altenau (Upper Harz)

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Langelsheim – Altenau (Upper Harz)
Section of the Langelsheim – Altenau railway line (Upper Harz)
Route number : 1931
Course book section (DB) : 204b
Route length: 33.4 km
Gauge : 1435 mm ( standard gauge )
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from Vienenburg
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from Goslar
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0.0 Langelsheim ( train station ) 208 m
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0.9 to Neuekrug-Hahausen
Connection Chemetall
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Realignment in 1963
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Bundesstrasse 82
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Concrete plant connection
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Connection Chemetall
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End of the route since 1963
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5.4 Lindthal 265 m
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Innerste dam
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6.9 Innermost
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10.2 Innermost
10.6 Innermost
10.7 Lautenthal 305 m
11.8 Innermost
16.8 Innermost
17.1 Wildemann tunnel (278 m)
17.3 Innermost
17.7 Wild man 408 m
18.3 Innermost
18.7 Innermost
18.9 Innermost
Bundesstrasse 242
20.0 Silver eel - reason
20.5 Innermost
Bundesstrasse 242
Bundesstrasse 242 and Zellbach
22.1 Frankenscharrnhütte 483 m
Zellbach and Bundesstrasse 242
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from the Ottiliaeschacht
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25.0 Clausthal - Zellerfeld 536 m
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Bundesstrasse 241
26.5 Clausthal East 564 m
1. Viaduct
2. Viaduct
32.4 3rd viaduct
33.7 Altenau (Upper Harz) 478 m

The Langelsheim – Altenau (Upper Harz) railway line was a railway line that ran through the Upper Harz . It was also called Innerstetalbahn , Oberharzbahn or Harzbahn . It was built to give the Magdeburg-Halberstädter Eisenbahngesellschaft (MHE) access to the Harz mines.

The route connected some of the formerly free mining towns in the Upper Harz with the existing railway lines in the northern Harz foreland.

Route description

The line branched off from the existing Neuekrug-Hahausen-Goslar railway line at Langelsheim station and led via the Innerstetalsperre stop (before the construction of the dam there was the Lindthal stop in the reservoir) to Lautenthal, from there through the Innerstetal via Wildemann , Silbernaal -Grund and Silberhütte (later renamed Frankenscharrnhütte ) to Clausthal-Zellerfeld , from where, from 1914, the Altenau terminus was reached via the Clausthal Ost stop .


Planning and construction

Middle viaduct between Clausthal and Altenau
Last viaduct in front of the Altenau terminus

Ideas for the construction of this route into the Upper Harz, which is important for mining , were already there in 1863, when the railway line from Hildesheim to Goslar was planned. However, the narrow Innerstetal and the considerable differences in altitude presented major problems for a railway line in standard gauge .

The Magdeburg-Halberstädter Eisenbahngesellschaft (MHE) began negotiations in 1871 and construction in May 1874. As a first step, the section to Lautenthal was tackled in 1875 from the Vienenburg marshalling yard of the MHE via Grauhof and Langelsheim . It was put into operation on October 25, 1875 for freight and on November 15, 1875 for passenger traffic. However, the station building of Lautenthal station was not yet completed at the time of the inauguration and was not put into operation until autumn 1877. The original access with the Vienenburg – Langelsheim railway via Grauhof was shut down for passenger traffic to Langelsheim in 1884 and completely abandoned in 1954; instead, a direct connection to Goslar was used.

The continuation of the route to Wildemann proved to be extremely difficult and required the construction of a 278-meter-long tunnel through the Gallenberg in Wildemann, which was put into operation on October 6, 1876. At that time, Wildemann also did not have a suitable reception building; it was only inaugurated four years later after the necessary access road had been built on June 28, 1879, and was considerably enlarged in 1904. Freight traffic to the Frankenscharrnhütte station south of Wildemann began as early as January 1, 1877, and passenger traffic there as well on May 15, 1877. The train service to Clausthal began on October 15, 1877. The station building there, located exactly between the towns of Clausthal and Zellerfeld, which were only united later (1924), was a representative brick building with a tower in the Wilhelminian style. It was enlarged in 1885 and 1901 because of the significant increase in passenger traffic. From 1877, initially three pairs of trains ran daily between Langelsheim and Clausthal-Zellerfeld.

Since 1888 there were plans to extend the railway line to Altenau and possibly from there to Goslar or Oker so that the previous branch line could become a through line that could be operated more profitably. The first preparatory work began in 1908, the actual construction work in February 1912. Four viaducts had to be built to cross several ditches and watercourses, of which the Hellertal Viaduct was the largest at 15 meters high and 44 meters long. The additional “Clausthal-Ost” station was built on the eastern edge of Clausthal. On April 30, 1914, the line to Altenau was put into operation. Seven pairs of trains ran daily between Altenau and Goslar. The outbreak of the First World War then meant the end of all plans for a possible further extension of the Innerstetalbahn.

Second World War

In 1935, near the “Clausthal Ost” stop, an explosives factory with the code name Werk Tanne was built . It was attacked from the air on October 7, 1944, with around 600 of 2000 bombs hitting the plant and the surrounding camps by forced laborers. The railway systems and various buildings in the city suffered severe damage, and the station building was almost completely destroyed. 92 people were killed. The train service could be resumed shortly afterwards, but the station building was only poorly restored.

On April 10, 1945, the train service on the Innerstetalbahn was stopped because of the approaching front. Lautenthal was taken on April 11th, Clausthal-Zellerfeld on April 13th in the morning. At noon on April 13, 1945, the Hellertal Viaduct was blown up by the Wehrmacht to stop the advance of the Americans. After the fighting ended, the reconstruction of the viaduct began on May 12, 1945 and was completed at the end of November 1945. From the summer of 1949 seven pairs of trains ran again between Altenau and Goslar as well as an additional pair of trains between Altenau and Clausthal-Zellerfeld on weekdays.

The reconstruction of the poorly repaired reception building at Clausthal-Zellerfeld station began on September 18, 1961 and was completed on September 30, 1963. However, the building was rebuilt in a significantly simplified and reduced form and was paneled with wood.

Changes and end

There have been many changes in the 100-year history of the Innerstetalbahn. More and more pits were closed, the Second World War did the rest, in the mid-1950s the rail post between Goslar - Altenau was discontinued and shifted to road transport. At the beginning of the 1960s there were again extensive construction measures and route relocations, which became necessary because the valley was flooded by the construction of the Innerste dam.

The creeping end began in 1967 with the cessation of mining in Clausthal-Zellerfeld and Lautenthal. Freight traffic sank and was consequently stopped by the railway. In 1974 there were nine pairs of trains running on weekdays and seven on Sundays. The passenger traffic no longer covered the costs, and so the German Federal Railroad announced the discontinuation of the railway. On May 29, 1976, the last trains ran according to the timetable. For the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of the Langelsheim – Clausthal line on October 15 and 16, 1977, special trains with the oil-fired steam locomotive 41 096 ran the route again, after which the tracks were dismantled and the station buildings were sold.

It is reported as "Revenge of the Innerstetalbahn" that a locomotive used during dismantling derailed because the section of track in front of it had already been removed.

Presence and relics of the railway systems

Hiking trail on the route of the former Innerstetalbahn

Even today, the bridges and viaducts of the Innerstetalbahn shape parts of the Upper Harz. This can be seen especially from the federal highway 242 between Seesen and Clausthal-Zellerfeld and the old country road between Clausthal-Zellerfeld and Altenau im Hellertal. All train stations and some other small buildings are still standing.

The old route of the Innerstetalbahn is now used as a hiking and cycling path and in winter as a cross-country ski run. The cycle path is part of the Lower Saxony long-distance cycle path (RFW) No. 5, the Weser-Harz-Heide cycle path , which runs from the Lüneburg Heath over the Harz, the Rhume spring and Göttingen to Hann. Münden leads. The north portal of the Wildemann tunnel has been buried. There is a memorial plaque inside on the right side of the south portal.

On the route between Clausthal-Zellerfeld and Altenau, in 2011 and 2013, forest road bridges over incision sections of the railway were demolished due to disrepair and the incision in the area in question filled. The future financing for the maintenance of the viaducts in Hellertal is also not secured.



  • Deutsche Reichsbahn (Ed.): The German railways in their development 1835-1935 . Reichsdruckerei, Berlin 1935. Reprint: Horst-Werner Dumjahn: Manual of the German railway lines. Opening dates 1835–1935, route lengths, concessions, ownership structure . Dumjahn, Mainz 1984, ISBN 3-921426-29-4 .
  • Evert Heusinkveld: The Innerstetalbahn Langelsheim – Altenau . Kenning, Nordhorn 2007, ISBN 3-933613-79-5 .
  • Josef Högemann: The state railway lines . In: Railways in the Harz Mountains . tape 1 . Kenning, Nordhorn 1995, ISBN 3-927587-43-5 , pp. 85 ff .
  • Ingrid Lader, Manfred Bornemann: The Innerstetalbahn in the Upper Harz . Oberharzer Druckerei, Clausthal-Zellerfeld 1997.
  • Ulrich Herz: Bw Goslar - A Northern Harz railway depot from the steam locomotive era . Goslarsche Zeitung, Goslar 2003, ISBN 3-9804749-7-6 .
  • Ulrich Herz, Werner Martsch: “By train to the Upper Harz!” On the way on the Innerstetalbahn Langelsheim - Altenau . Goslarsche Zeitung, Goslar 2011, ISBN 978-3-9813191-0-1 .

Web links

Commons : Innerstetalbahn  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Evert Heusinkveld: The Innerstetal train Langelsheim - Altenau. Nordhorn 2007, p. 11.
  2. Evert Heusinkveld: The Innerstetal train Langelsheim - Altenau. Nordhorn 2007, p. 71.
  3. Evert Heusinkveld: The Innerstetal train Langelsheim - Altenau. Nordhorn 2007, p. 39.
  4. Evert Heusinkveld: The Innerstetal train Langelsheim - Altenau. Nordhorn 2007, p. 42.