Happy Birthday! Kasprowy Wierch, one of Europe’s oldest cable cars, turns 85
The Kasprowy Wierch cable car line in the Polish mountains – one of the longest in the world when it opened – celebrates its 85th birthday this week.
Located in the Western Tatras, in southern Poland, the cable car line runs from Kuźnice, part of the town of Zakopane, to the Kasprowy Wierch peak, up to an altitude of 1,959 metres.
The line is one of the oldest in Europe: it first started running 85 years ago, on 15 March 1936. At the time, it was the third-longest cable-car line in the world.
Commenting on the anniversary, Daniel Pitrus, the head of the cable car company, Polskie Koleje Linowe (PKL), said: “This line was built at record speed, in 227 days. Nowadays, when technology has advanced, it seems like a truly great achievement.”
“For those times, it was an achievement not only in Poland, but also in Europe and the world,” he added.
Construction began in July 1935. The lower part of the route, from Kuźnice to Myślenickie Turnie, was relatively straightforward, as there was a forest road. The second part was trickier because of the steep mountain terrain.
Striking photos from the time show the massive human effort involved. Some show men (some of them in the traditional outfits of the local Góral community) pushing materials up the slope on wheelbarrows, with mountains in the background.
Another shows huge logs being loaded on to a horse-drawn cart.
At the peak of the project, there were a thousand people at the construction site.
Some of it was carried out during the winter of 1935-1936, when temperatures fell to as low as -20°C. Two workers died in an accident during the project.
Disobeying the rules, they decided to descend from the peak in the working cable car, which broke off the line and fell for a few metres.
During the first year after it opened, 165,000 people used the cable car line to travel up to Kasprowy Wierch.
It continues to operate to this day and is used by around half a million people per year, according to PKL.