- Written by Detlef Zirpel
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0.0 km Osberghausen
The starting point of our ride through the Wiehl valley is Osberghausen. This former station today just serves as passing loop for the Aggertalbahn between Cologne Overath and Gummersbach. The Wiehltalbahn part of the Osberghausen station area has a passing loop as well as a siding with end-loading platform. The renovated signal tower and the repeatedly rebuilt freight wagon repair shop still roughly indicate the former proportions of the station.
At full tilt the two MAN-VTs with their illustrious train unit are roaring on the Agger valley railway
line through Osberghausen towards Dieringhausen. The two tracks in the foreground
are part of the Wiehltalbahn line that branches here. (Photo Christoph Timper)
A VT98 trainset branches off from the Aggertal line
onto the Wiehltalbahn line (Photo Uli Clees)
During your ride on the Wiehltalbahn you should always keep in mind the reasons for its construction. The main reason was to establish a convenient transportation facility for the greywacke stone quarries. Growing towns like Cologne, Solingen and several places in the Wupper valley used the rocks for road construction and the railway needed it to build new lines. So the Wiehltalbahn was opened up to Wiehl in 1897 and in 1906 up to Waldbröl (Waldbröl already was connected to the railway network by the narrow gauge "Brölthaler Eisenbahn (Bröl Valley Railway)". In 1908 the gap to the "Wissertalbahn” (Wissen Valley Railway) between Hermesdorf and Morsbach (which already was connected to the railway network since 1890 via Wissen) was closed. As the "last building blocks" of the railway network in the Berg county the line from Brüchermühle to Wildbergerhütte (1910) and the local railway from Bielstein to Waldbröl (1915; native line of the steam locomotive "Waldbröl") were added. They were also the lines where the dismantling of the Berg county railways began after the access to the Sieg valley railway was already broken during WW II.
Map of the railway lines in the upper Berg county
around 1938 (railway division Wuppertal)
So we start our ride at milepost 0.00 from Osberghausen Station., cross the B55 after roughly 200m and follow the course of the Wiehl upstream. Next to kilometre 1 there is the first former greywacke quarry: Kohlmeier.
VT1 of the Wiehltalbahn passes the former quarry Kohlmeier (Photo Uli Clees)
Today the erstwhile siding can just be guessed at. Below the surface of a parallel lane remains of the rails can be found. There also are fragments of the loading- and capstan facility left, as well as of the crushers. To those interested in these industrial-archaeological aspects we recommend the article on the website 'Verein Rheinische Industriekultur'
VT013 just ahead of Weiershagen (Photo Uli Clees))
2.3 km Weiershagen Halt
Passing a scenic area we reach Weiershagen Halt at kilometre stone 2.3.
Weiershagen (Photo Uli Clees)
After passing this place - just after the second level crossing - we can see the currently-unused siding of the Kind & Co special steel works on the right hand side.
Currently-unused siding of the Kind & Co special steel works (Photo Uli Clees)
Their Diesel shunter (Deutz Bdm, Fabriknummer 55670) was retired some years ago and then went to the "Regensburger Eisenbahnfreunde".
3.9 km Bielstein Halt
We cross the Wiehl on a steel bridge and arrive at Bielstein Halt. Just the single railtrack and a sad relic of a platform are left of the railway equipment once belonging to the station. Station building, crossings and sidings had to give way to a bus terminal and to the town centre expansion. The Bielstein brewery is just a stone's throw away. It is well known beyond the borders of the upper Berg county for its Pils and Kölsch. You can admire the brewery's polished copper brew kettles from the street. Right after the level crossing we cross the Wiehl again (steel bridge) and note the parallel pedestrian bridge. It is one of the few still existing relics of the standard gauge privately-owned local railway from Bielstein to Waldbröl that branched here. The pedestrian bridge linked the local railway station to the town centre and the Bielstein national railway station. The area of the former local railway station is in an unrecognisable condition now because of house building. The last remaining locomotive of this local railway - the steam locomotive "Waldbröl" - is the workhorse of the "Bergischer Löwe" train (a joint project of the Dieringhausen Railway Museum and the Wiehltalbahn) since spring 2010.
After the end of her first period of service: The steam locomotive 'Waldbröl' of the
''Kleinbahn Bielstein – Waldbröl' - stabled in Bielstein in the late 1960s (Photo Joachim Herhaus)
6.4 km Alperbrück Halt
In the further course of the track we pass a scenic, photogenic valley next to the Bielstein district of Kehlinghausen and arrive at Alperbrück Halt. The former railway equipment here also is in an unrecognisable condition. Until recently the branch connection of the "Bergisch-Märkische Steinindustrie (stoneworks of Berg county and Märkischer district)" at km 6.4 was used for the transport of transformers of the "RWE (Rhine-Westphalia Energy )" to/from the Bomig electric power transformer substation.
KLV53 at work. It took just 14 days to renew
the entire platform in Alperbrück! (Photo: Gerhard Mansel)
VT013 is leaning into the curve near Alperbrück (Photo Uli Clees)
The erstwhile crusher building is privately owned today and is planned to be converted into an art- and stone-industry museum. Furthermore the society "Rheinische Industriekultur (Rhine industry culture)" provides a very interesting web page on this topic. The former locomotive of the "Bergisch-Märkische Steinindustrie" (Jung Bdm, 1940, Ser.No. 8808) sadly was scrapped by the "Eisenbahnfreunden Flügelrad Oberberg (railway friends 'winged wheel' upper Berg county)" in summer 1997.
Right behind Alperbrück Halt the former delivery siding of the "Bergisch-Märkische Steinindustrie
(stoneworks of Berg county and Märkischer district)" branches to the left (Photo Uli Clees)
Transformer transport of the RWE (Rhine-Westphalia Energy) for the transformer plant in Bomig (Photo Roland U. Neumann)
8.6 km Wiehl Station
Station building of Wiehl with attached freight shed (Photo Gerhard Mansel)
A loading track as well as the link to the freight shed were disconnected and lifted in favour of a bus stop some years ago.
Points of the former loading track and connection to the freight shed (Photo Detlef Zirpel)
At Km 8.7 we activate the level crossing devices and cross the road with gusto as another uphill part is in front of us. On the left hand side of milepost 9.4 Km there is the factory siding of the "Bergische Patentachsenfabrik Wiehl (Berg county patent axle factory Wiehl)" (Kotz Bros. & Sons). The rail tracks in the factory premises were lifted after the abandonment of the freight traffic by DB some years ago. The former factory locomotive (Deutz Bdm, 55179) went to the LVR-Industriemuseum ('industrial museum of the Rhineland Regional Authority'; former 'Rheinisches Industriebahn Museum' RIM; Rhenish industry railway museum)" in Cologne-Nippes as exhibition piece.
10.9 km Oberwiehl Station
At Km 10.9 we arrive at Oberwiehl Station, which is a beautiful, privately-owned quarrystone building but has been downgraded to a halt. The loading siding had been used for the shipping of storm damaged timber throughout the year 2007 and still is available for freight transport.
The loading track in Oberwiehl with the station building
in the background. (Photo Uli Clees)
VT013 arrives at Oberwiehl (Photo Christoph Timper)
12.7 km Remperg-Mühlenau Halt
Remperg-Mühlenau Halt before the reactivation (Photo Gerhard Mansel)
Remperg-Mühlenau Halt after the reactivation (Photo Uli Clees)
For a while the trains ended here, but after years of overhauling by the voluntary Wiehltalbahn track construction crew (supported by the RSE Rhine-Sieg Eisenbahn) the continuing track has been useable again up to Waldbröl since April 18th, 2010. Not far from Remperg-Mühlenau Halt is the Biebwerstein reservoir, which invites for a visit just two bends further onward. The reservoir was impounded in the 1930s to prevent recurring flooding of Wiehl and to provide a constant water flow to the hydroelectric power plants in Oberwiehl and Wiehl. Before the reservoir had been impounded a wooden bridge spanned the valley. The stone for the dam was brought to the loading facility of the Wiehltalbahn from the quarry on the opposite shore by horse and cart. The spoil tips on the opposite hillside are still visible and the bases of the loading facility. After crossing the road in Sengelbusch and passing the former quarry loading facility the journey takes us uphill towards Brüchermühle.
15.9 km Brüchermühle Halt
This former station today sadly just provides one rail track. It is hard to believe that another national railway line branched here leading to Wildbergerhütte. Brüchermühle once had quite substantial railway property - today just witnessed by the noble, privately-owned station building.
Brüchermühle station building in 2003 (Photo Detlef Zirpel)
18.0 km Denklingen Halt
Denklingen station building in 2003 (Photo Detlef Zirpel)
A few metres further we cross an adventurous looking replacement bridge, which originated from the period after WW II. Shortly before the end of the war one half of the viaduct became victim of several kilograms of explosive and was replaced by the current construction - nothing is longer lasting than an interim solution!
A working train on the Denklingen replacement bridge
in 2006 (Photo Andreas Voll)
The extensive renovation of both parts of the bridge - the concrete span as well as the steel interim solution - was our big project for the years 2010 - 2012. Thousands of hours of voluntary work have been spent on the bridge by our active members - apart from the many thousand hours for the "normal" work of the track construction crew.
20.8 km Hermesdorf Station
The next stone bridge awaits us in Schneppenberg and subsequently the journey leads through the great outdoors up to Hermesdorf.
Hermesdorf Station - still in a sleeping beauty slumber
in 2003 (Photo Detlef Zirpel)
Here the track branches to Morsbach and leads via Kömpel through the romantic Zielenbach valley, which is also gladly used by hikers for their walks. We are currently working on the reconstruction of this part of the track as well. More about this line on a separate website! We continue our ride on the route to Waldbröl and reach its outskirts in the form of the Boxberg industrial estate just after Hermesdorf. After passing Boxberg we arrive at Waldbröl Station.
23.6 km Waldbröl Station
Waldbröl Station - still with engine shed and the connecting track
to the light railway Bielstein - Waldbröl (Photo Axel Johanßen)
Waldbröl also had another station - the station of the narrow-gauge "Rhein-Sieg Eisenbahn AG (PLC)" (not to be confused with the present Rhein-Sieg-Eisenbahn GmbH (Ltd.)). It was the first public narrow-gauge railway in Germany and sadly is also a thing of the past. Back to the present: Waldbröl Station still has sufficient land for passenger and freight traffic. The station consists of a freight section and a passenger section which has been laid out in the direction of the town centre. Platforms still exist, as well as loading ramps and the remains of a weighbridge. Platform 1 is paved with greywacke stone and has been reconstructed with the hard work of members of the preservation society as have the rail tracks themselves.
Refurbishing of our duty rooms in the Waldbröl Station Buiolding (Photo Jürgen Seinsche)