Horse tram

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Entrance on Friedrich-Wilhelm-Strasse in Braunschweig on the day the horse-drawn railway opened, October 11, 1879
Horse tram in New York, around 1895

A horse-drawn tram , horse-drawn railway , horse runway , horse tram , horse-drawn , horse-drawn tram or Swiss German Rösslitram is an on rails running transport , in which horses or rare mules or oxen as draft animals are used. Horse trams are considered to be the technical forerunners of today's railways and trams , which today are usually moved by locomotives or railcars .


First class passenger transport on the Linz – Budweis route, drawing by A. Krúzner
Last trip on the Derby Canal Railway , laid out in 1792 , 1908
A horse-drawn summer carriage made by the Herbrand wagon factory

The first railways on iron-shod wooden planks were operated with work horses as draft animals; they were mostly short mine railway routes. But there were also longer distances, for example the horse-drawn railway Budweis – Linz – Gmunden , on which horses pulled the carriages and wagons, was 128 kilometers long. In the Ruhr area there was a horse-drawn tram network with a total length of around 50 kilometers even before the first steam locomotive- operated railways opened around 1835 to 1838.

The following railway lines were wholly or partly operated as an important horse-drawn railway:

The lines were either converted to normal railway lines with steam locomotives a short time later or they were shut down.

Horse trams in major German cities

Share of more than 1200 Marks in the Bremen Horse Railway from November 16, 1886
Horse-drawn railway in Stuttgart, 1896
Train pulled by oxen in Stephansort , 1902

In Germany, in May 1864, the "Berliner Pferdeeisenbahn-Gesellschaft E. Besckow KGaA" was founded, whose horse-drawn railway between Berlin and Charlottenburg first ran in June 1865.

This was followed in 1864 by the establishment of the first horse-drawn railway company in Hamburg ("Hamburg Horse Railway Company") as a public limited company. Shareholders were u. a. the wagon manufacturer Friedrich Christian Lauenstein, JC Godeffroy & Sohn and the Schröder brothers . The first horse-drawn tram ran regularly from Hamburg to Wandsbek from August 1866 . In June 1867 a "line" opened to Barmbek . The majority of the horses were gray and black . They were provided by the horse dealer Claus Olde. A regulation of August 10, 1868 demanded that when the horse-drawn tram signals sounded, the railway line had to be free of pedestrians and wagons.

Horse trams followed in Stuttgart (February 1868), Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig / Dresden (both 1872), Bremen (June 1876), Munich (October 1876) and in Cologne by the entrepreneur Ernst Hardt (April 1877).


In the area of ​​the trams , the horse power lasted longer. Most of the German and foreign tram companies began operating with horses by the mid-1880s. There were over 90 horse-drawn trams in Germany and over 1,700 worldwide.


  • The first long-distance route in Europe was the Budweis – Linz – Gmunden Böhmen / Austria horse-drawn railway , opened in sections from 1827–1836. It was switched to steam operation as early as 1855/56 and stopped in 1872.
  • Europe's first horse-drawn tram was the Montbrison – Montrond overland tram . Commissioned in 1839, it was closed again in 1848 after the second bankruptcy.
  • The second tram of the Old World in France , also initially operated as a horse-drawn tram , was the first Parisian tram network , 1855-1938.
  • The first horse-drawn railways in England were in Birkenhead (August 29, 1860) and London (1861).
  • On June 22, 1865, the first horse tram in Germany between the Brandenburg Gate and Charlottenburg began operating with the Berlin Horse Railway .
  • Austria's first horse-drawn tram ran from October 4, 1865 from Vienna's Schottentor to Hernals , which at that time was an important suburb of the capital. As early as 1840 to 1842, a tram was in operation in the Augarten area for a short time .
  • From 1878 the horse tram drove through Graz, in 1899 it was electrified.
  • The Northern Irish railway line Fintona Junction – Fintona , opened in 1853, ran as a horse-drawn tram for passengers, while the freight trains were pulled by steam locomotives.
  • In Timișoara , Romania , which at that time still belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary, the horse-drawn tram went into operation in 1869 .
  • The Douglas Bay Horse Tramway in the Isle of Man's capital is still in operation and is one of the island's attractions.
  • In Switzerland , the first Rösslitram started operating in Geneva on June 19, 1862 .
  • In Zurich, a single-horse tram in front of the main train station is documented for 1865 to 1899 (already electric in 1900).
  • In the small and medium-sized towns of France, the development was delayed: Horse trams were still in operation towards the end of the 19th century. The railways in Amiens (1891), Poitiers (1895), Epernay (1895) and Vienne (1895) were designed in meter gauge. Later, for cost reasons, the even smaller track width of 600 millimeters was used, for example in Dunkerque (1896), Berck (1899), Fort-Mahon (1899), Arcachon and Laboutarie in the Tarn department . The latter existed until 1933 as a horse-drawn tram.

Most of the trams, which were initially operated by horses, were converted to electric operation before the First World War . The Stadthagen tram was discontinued in 1930 as the last horse-drawn tram in Germany on the mainland. Many former horse-drawn trams were used as sidecars for the electric tram. Until 1949, the Spiekeroog island railway with horse traction operated on the island of Spiekeroog .


Life-size model of a horse-drawn tram at City Center, Calcutta. The Calcutta Tramways Company was incorporated in London on 1880. It is currently owned by the State Administration of West Bengal
  • Asia's first horse-drawn tram in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, was about four kilometers long, was inaugurated in 1871 and was believed to be in operation until the middle of the 20th century.
  • The second horse tram in Asia drove from February 24, 1873 in Calcutta between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat (Armenian Quay) via Bowbazar and Dalhousie Square (now BBD Bag). Today it is the only city in India with a tram - which has also been motorized here for a long time. A replica of the first horse-powered tram stands in the city center.


  • In 1860, the first tram in Africa went into operation in Alexandria, Turkey . Other lines were added later, which are now operated electrically.
  • In South Africa ran from 1 April 1863 in Cape Town , the Cape Town and Green Point Tramway (Adderley Street Somerset Road Green Point).
  • In Liberia's capital Monrovia , a horse-drawn tram line was still in operation around 1920, but it did not seem to be profitable.


Horse tram in Palm Beach 1905
1951 tram pulled by mules in Limoeiro, Brazil
  • The world's first horse-powered tram ran in the United States in New York on November 26, 1832 .
  • On March 26, 1856, horse tram operation began in Boston . Since there is still a tram network there today, the Green Line with its four branches, Boston has the oldest continuously operated tram network in the world.
  • The second oldest is (with today only eight kilometers of tram) that opened on January 30, 1859, also with a horse-drawn vehicle in Rio de Janeiro .
  • The first horse-drawn tram in Latin America went to Cuba already on February 3, 1858 in Havana in operation.
  • The first horse tram in South America was opened in Chile on June 10, 1858 in Santiago de Chile .


Australia's first tram, opened in Sydney in 1861, was also a horse-drawn tram. The Victor Harbor Horse Drawn Tram is a broad-gauge horse drawn tram from Victor Harbor to Granite Island in Encounter Bay near Adelaide in South Australia , which was originally in operation from 1894 to 1956 and has been running for tourists since 1986 with double-decker replicas.

Field railway

A company with horses was also common on field railways , for example on field railways used for agricultural purposes. In agricultural use, it was assumed that two horses could pull a wagon with eight tons of payload on approximately level tracks with occasional slight inclines and still with a payload of three tons on inclines of up to five percent. But this was one and a half to twice as much as the same team could do on paved roads. Compared to pulling a farm wagon on unpaved field paths, it was assumed that the power would be three to four times as high.

Today's horse trams


A horse weighing 700 kilograms has a dead weight of around 7000 Newtons and can provide around 20 percent of that, i.e. 1400 N tractive force .

Using the example of the new Döbelner horse tram, an unoccupied wagon with a mass of 2,040 kilograms results in a tensile resistance ( rolling resistance "iron on iron") of only 600 N. Occupied with 22 passengers (approx. 1650 kilograms in addition gives a total of approx on a level stretch of around 800 N. This means that one -horse operation is possible without neglecting animal welfare . With the tractive force reserve of 600 N, the horse and the occupied wagon can also move up to 13 per mille uphill. With two horses, the team then has a total mass of 5100 kg - 2000 N tractive force more than what is required for rolling - sufficient for 39 per thousand upward travel.

Animal welfare and number of horses

To operate a horse-drawn tramway, significantly more horses than wagons are always necessary, as the animals have to recover after each use and are therefore constantly changed. These rest breaks usually took place at the terminus, where so-called rider boys - also called tram riders or pre-tensioners - unharnessed , fed and watered the horses . The driver then harnessed a rested animal for the return journey. In Bonn , a service horse covered an average of around 19 kilometers a day in the first year of operation in 1891, in the following years this performance increased to around 19.5 kilometers in 1892 and 20.4 kilometers in 1893 - before it did so in 1895 (17th century) , 44 kilometers a day) and in 1896 (16.78 kilometers a day) fell again somewhat. At the Neue Berliner Pferdebahn, the clamping service lasted an average of three hours a day.

Since the horse-drawn tram carriages were often relatively heavy, the coachmen in Frankfurt am Main, for example, were instructed by instructions not to come to a complete stop at the stops so that the horses did not have to start the carriages in motion. The same purpose is served relapse turnout and long dodging the flying intersections allowed. Also for reasons of animal welfare , the short trot was the prescribed gait , faster gaits were strictly prohibited. So-called tram riders stood by on inclines to harness additional horses to tackle the ramp . In Frankfurt, the draft animals were on average between four and a half and six years in use on the horse-drawn tram before the tram company sold them to farmers.

As a rule, a mathematical ratio of five to seven animals per wagon applied to single horses . In contrast, the Zurich tram company contented itself with an average of three to four horses per carriage, which earned it the accusation that it flayed its animals to death. In Cologne, on the other hand, there were only 2.6 horses per car in 1883 and only 2.44 horses in 1899.


Many horse-drawn trams - apart from the terminus - had no fixed stops , and this was also the case with the world's first system in New York. Passengers could call to stop at any time from inside the car or by waving from the roadside. Even jumping up and down while driving was often allowed. At the latest with the introduction of the faster electric ones, all tram companies finally introduced the well-known fixed intermediate stops, even if some of them are still on demand today . The Nuremberg tram, which opened in 1881, has been handed down to us that fixed points were set up there as stops before electrification took place in 1896 in order to protect the horses . The Erfurt tram introduced fixed stops in 1883 after just under half a year of horse-drawn tram operation, while the Vienna tram , which opened in 1865, took four years. In the case of the Hamburg tram, the third horse-drawn tram company, the SEG , which was active from 1880 on , introduced fixed stops. In contrast, the two older predecessor companies, PEG and HAT , did not yet have fixed stops. The peculiarity of Stuttgart was that, although fixed stations existed from 1878, the horse-drawn tram had to stop at every point along the route at the request of the passengers.


In Don Siegel's film The Last Sniper (1976) with John Wayne , Lauren Bacall and James Stewart , the Carson City horse-drawn tram is featured prominently several times.

German Horse Railway Museum

In Döbeln there is a museum preparation on the subject.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Altonaer Nachrichten of November 15, 1865, page 1
  2. Hamburger Nachrichten of August 13, 1866, page 4
  3. ^ Fritz Voigt, Verkehr: second volume, second half: The development of the traffic system , 1965, p. 668, digitizedhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3D5q_0iEAOYeMC~IA%3D~MDZ%3D%0A~SZ%3DPA668~ double-sided%3D~LT%3D~PUR%3D
  4. ^ The history of the horse tram in Graz: Grazer Tramway (GT; owner: Bernhard Kollmann; left-hand traffic); 1878 to 1887 The history of the horse tram in Graz: Grazer Tramway Gesellschaft (GTG; left-hand traffic); 1887 to 1899 updated February 15, 2015, accessed March 20, 2020.
  5. Alt Zürich 01, accessed December 22, 2019. - Pictures 4 (1865, 2 tracks), 6 (1886, tram), 8 (1895, one-horse car), 10 (1899, one-horse car) and 11 (1900, electric ).
  6. AMTUIR Transport Museum Chelles Histoire générale des transports 1891–1899 Retrieved on January 9, 2014 (French) ( Memento of the original of December 23, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. ^ Tram Views of Asia> Iraq
  8. A view of Monrovia ... (1920/30). In: Getty Images, Inc. Internet portal. Retrieved November 4, 2010 . (Historical images)
  9. Regarding agricultural railways and train services: Gustav Fischer: Landmaschinenkunde . Ulmer, Stuttgart 1928, reprinted by Verlag Weltbild, Augsburg 2005, ISBN 3-8289-5400-6 , p. 162 ff.
  10. Regarding horse operation at the Heeresfeldbahn: Alfred B. Gottwald: Heeresfeldbahnen . Transpress, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-613-70818-3 , p. 78
  11. regarding horse business on construction railways cf. z. B. Joachim Jakubowski: The chronicle of the Brohltalbahn . Kersting, St. Augustin 1992, ISBN 3-925250-08-5 , pp. 20, 29
  13. Electricity or oats - The history of the Bonn horse-drawn railway ( Memento of the original from May 18, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  14. Reinhard Demps: The tram has been going to Weißensee for 125 years . In: Berliner Verkehrsblätter . Volume 6, 2002, pp. 115-116 .
  15. [1]
  16. ^ Hans-Rudolf Galliker: Tramstadt - local public transport and urban development using the example of Zurich . Chronos Verlag, Zurich 1997, ISBN 3-905312-02-6 , p. 39 .
  17. ^ Hermann Wenzel: The horse-drawn railway company. In: Chronicle of the KVB. Achim Pietschmann, accessed on July 1, 2020 .
  18. First tram in the world on ( Memento of the original from March 25, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  19. ^ Christoph Hammer: De Rostocker Pierbahn (1881-1904). In: depot12. Rostock local transport fans, accessed on July 1, 2020 .
  20. Frank Harreck-Haase: Beginning with the horse-drawn tram. In: The Chemnitz tram. Jens Hellwig, 2011, accessed July 1, 2020 .
  21. In the workers' car to work - From 1881 a horse tram ran in Nuremberg , Nürnberger Zeitung of January 10, 2011
  22. From horse-drawn tram to light rail - 130 years of local transport in Erfurt
  23. Data on the history of public urban transport in Vienna at
  24. ^ The road rail company in Hamburg on
  25. Operating history on

Web links

Wiktionary: Pferdebahn  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Horse Trains  - Collection of images, videos and audio files