Riggenbach, Niklaus

b. 21 May 1817 Gebweiler, Alsace
d. 25 July 1899 Olten, Switzerland
Swiss locomotive engineer and pioneer of mountain rack railways.
Riggenbach came from a Basle family and was educated in Basle, Lyons and Paris, where he was so impressed by the new railway to Saint-Germain that he decided to devote himself to work in that field. He worked for Kessler's locomotive works in Karlsruhe, which built the first locomotives for the Zurich-Baden Railway. This was the first railway in Switzerland and when it was opened in 1847 Riggenbach drove the first train. He subsequently became Locomotive Superintendent of the Swiss Central Railway, and the problems of operating a steeply graded line solely by adhesion led him to develop a rack railway which incorporated a ladder rack similar to that of Sylvester Marsh. However, it was only after the Swiss Consul in Washington had reported enthusiastically on the Mount Washington Cog Railway that Riggenbach and associates were able to get a concession for their first line, which was laid up the Rigi mountain and was opened in 1871. That same year Riggenbach opened a quarry railway operated for the first time by a mixture of rack and adhesion. From this start, rack railways were built widely in Switzerland and to a lesser extent in many other parts of the world. His Rigi railway continues to operate.
Riggenbach patented his rack railway in 1863.
Further Reading
Riggenbach's type of counter-pressure brakes is described in Transactions of the Newcomen Society 55:13.
M.Dietschy, 1971, "Le Chemin de fer du Rigi à 100 ans", Chemins defer régionaux et
urbains 106.
O.J.Morris, 1951, The Snow don Mountain Railway, Ian Allan.
See also: Abt, Roman

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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