Technology surrounds our lives and is part of our daily routine. Have you ever stopped and wondered which events made this possible? For me, one of the most important ones is the Industrial Revolution, when, as you may know, the handcrafting was replaced by machine production. Another important creation was that of trains and railway transportation. Although the idea of a railway was known since the Antique, the modern railways were created sometime around the Industrial Revolution. Another event was the creation of the first steam-powered engine for a locomotive, and there is a place where such a steam locomotive still transports enthusiastic travelers in Romania - Mocanița in Vișeu de Sus, in Maramureș County. This train will not only give you a possibility to go back in time but also take a ride in the last steam forestry railway in the world, used for timber transportation.
Travelling on a train carried by a steam locomotive is definitely unique. While Europe’s oldest working locomotive is in Banovići, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the last steam forestry railway is in northern Romania. Both narrow-gauge railroads were built by the Habsburgs and served as a transportation method for prime materials, such as coal respectively wood in Maramureș, Romania.
The Romanian word 'Mocanița' was actually used for all wood transportation trains. In 1989, Romania had about 15 railway trails, which spread over about 1.000 km. The one in Vișeul de Sus was built in 1932 to gather all the wood from the Vaser Valley and deliver it to the local factory. It was in use, as timber transportation, until the year 2000. After that, the trains opened their doors to enthusiastic train travelers. Four locomotives - Switzerland, Cozia, Măriuţa and Krauss were renovated, and the wagons for people transportation were acquired. The charming trains are still a perfect addition to the fairytale landscape.
The journey starts at Vișeul de Sus train station, also built around 1930, and it will take about half a day. All sightseers will enjoy a two hours ride to Paltin and back. In Paltin, you will make a longer stop and can enjoy a lunch break organized for the train guests.
Not only is the Mocanița the last steam train to transport wood, but its uniqueness is due to the charming valley this train crosses. The Vaser Valley is now included in the Maramureș Mountains National Park. What can one expect is a wonderful area, unspoiled and wild, without roads and villages, but populated by animals such as sheep, wolves or bears? It really is a great opportunity to transport yourself in the past.
Wood and water are two words that define the Maramureș County. You may have already heard of or seen the famous Maramureș wood gates or the imposing wood architecture like the wood treasure in Maramureș – the Bârsana Monastery. So, the Mocanița train is perfectly symbiotic to this area, as it transported timber along the Vaser River.
I think everybody should go back in time with the Mocanița train in Vișeul de Sus, in Maramureș County, at least once. The landscape this trip is offering is magical and won’t disappoint even the more pretentious of travelers.
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