On 21/3/1998, first day of spring, was also the first day on a weekend without rain ... so we jumped off the bed early to do a walk on the mountain ...
It was the turn of my wife, that does not like railways, so she choose an itinerary that in origin had no special expectancies for me ...
It was then a surprise to find that the walk turned in the most interesting railway-oriented trip of the season, mostly sice it "come out" without notice
So when we saw a 600m gauge track and a couple of railway cars alonmg the road, in an abandoned quarry, I thought it was a good day ... and began to shot pictures.
After about 20' we started to climb on the steep and in not-so-good shape road to the top of the valley, were we expected just a interesting panorama.
The walley was narrow, some washout in the winter rendered the road difficult to pass so we did not hurry, the wind looked to begin to blow, so we decided that staying in the valley would not have been a bad thing ...
But when the road ended, or right we saw this surprise: a piece of rail, and by carefully looking we saw even some rail used to support a platform where truck could reverse after getting the marbles ...
This use is not uncommon, so I just get a picture and went on, just
a few meters and ....
Inside what apperared a sheep precint, a rail, carefully screwed to ties ....
ONE rail I saw ... only ONE ....
I did some more careful watching but I realized that it was a railway with a NARROW gauge.
The line that departed toward north confirmed me the impression.
Even more it confirmed me the impression the car that was out of the rail in the station.
Actually the gauge of this railway is the width of the head of the rail.
The car, of which I put below some pictures, is a sleight that run on the top of the rail.
The car has two wheels that stay on top of the rail, to support the weight of the car and the hefty load (blocks of a particular yellow marble).
The load was fixed to the platform by large steel ropes, one of them you can see in the picture above
In the picture there is NOT the supporting platform in wood that used to carry the load, the long protuding vertical bolts you see in the picture give you an impression on how high was that platform, and at the same time let you see the mechanism with the pivoting wheel that rolled ON the rail, with two flanges.
I have three more pictures that show the mechanism of cars and the fixing of load.
In the picture on right you see a particular from below the car: the two cilinder that, on the other end of the car, kept it on the rail from outside , as do (from inside, howewer) the regular flanges or railway cars.
The large picture below show the valley end of the car. Sleight shaped.
The cars were used as a funicolar, as you can suppose -if you do not consider the steepyness of the line- by the support that are along the line, put there to support the rollers for the traction cable.
As you can see the line has along it a stair, so one can climb more easily (but not necessarily effortless).
The support, at contrary than with standard passenger funicolars are not between the rails (this would be impossible for a very obvious reason on this railway!) but rather on one side of the line, that form a long curve, so the cable is pulled laterally.
The cars are sleight shaped, and in effect if not perfectly horizontal slide on ties.
On pictures below you can see how the wooden ties, but even the concrete bed, are usurated by this continuous passage:
On the picture on right in orange are evidentiated the points where the sleight used to pass on one of the few steel ties (the rail here "deraliled" due some stones fall).
Such arrangement was choosen against a standars two rail railway since the traffic were with very heavy, but not so much fragile loads, that would have posed some concern on bearings on standard flanged wheels..
Also the traditional way to carry at valley the marble that was used until the end of XIX century was the "lizza" that is a just a wooden sleight on a stone road. In this place they just added a rail, mostly for directional guide [ordinary lizza ways are perfectly straight).
The road soon begin to climb in wonderful views (more here).
About halfway there is small bridge in concrete, where the rail has pulled out of the ties (it is interesting to note that most of the line is laid on wooden ties, casted in concrete, and almost all are in place, and the track is on there, in this place, on the bridge the rail was bolted to steel ties, and has moved). I have to say that the bridge have been hit by some falled rocks, so they can be the origin of the move.
It is possible, however, that the bolts to fix to the rail to steel ties were smaller than those to fix on wood, an example is at right, enclosed in the concrete since the time of the bulding of the line, and so failed early.
In the two pictures below you see how the rail was prepared to be fixed to ties (left) with holes on shoe, and how the rails were coupled (right).
Since the two guides that rolled on side of the rail was not possible to use standard lateral joints as in standard rails.
The line was laid at the end of the 20's of XXth century, as the rail say: (A[nonima] F[onderie] L[ombarde] Sesto S[an] G[iovanni] 1921 25 [kg/m] )
We stopped for lunch, before coming down, you can see the full view of the central part of the line in this page. I have not put here not to charge too much the page with large images. Thse are not railway images, but were the original reason for the trip.
We can see some artifacts: the wheels that kept the rope, and a few view of the line, we can also see another car, felt off the line.
End of trip . The old indication of "private rail way" (this was not a common carrier) and the rest at end of trim.
If you will come here I will be happy to arrange a trip together