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Adolf Guyer-Zeller

Adolf Guyer-Zeller

Adolf Guyer-Zeller© gimmelwaldnews.ch

Adolf Guyer (1839 - 1899) was one of Switzerland's railway pioneers, whose greatest work was inspired by a few days holiday in the village of Mürren in the Bernese Oberland in 1893.

For more than 20 years entrepreneurs and engineers had been proposing different ways of taking tourists up to the Jungfrau - including one which entailed shooting travellers up a dead straight tunnel in vehicles propelled by compressed air; Guyer was the one who hit on the winning formula and who managed to raise the necessary finance. The Jungfrau railway is built entirely inside the three mountains, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau zigzagging over a length of more than 9 km.

It was built in stages, the idea being that ticket sales for the first stretch would finance the construction of the next. The spoil from the tunnels was disposed of through holes cut in the mountainside - and when the line was completed the holes became windows where the trains stop to allow passengers to admire unparalleled views over the valleys on all four sides.

But Guyer did not live to see the fulfilment of his dream. The first section was opened in 1898; six months later he died of a heart attack. However, his sons continued the work, and the line to the Jungfraujoch, still Europe's highest railway station at 3454 meters (11,330 ft), was completed in 1912, and continues to this day to be one of Switzerland's major tourist attractions.

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