The Schwebebahn's Loher Looping

loherloopfi - The Schwebebahn's Loher Looping

There’s one question that has bugged people for more than a century. Which came first? The Schwebebahn or the München Looping? Today we have the answer. The famous German monorail beat the München Looping in terms of plans and concepts by a whole century. How did that even come about? Today for the first time, us in angst ridden Britain have the answers. Read on and find out about the earliest plans for a most serious looping ride!

The aborted plans were very recently rediscovered in a German market – the very first tangible evidence of such a design for a looping and its why up to now no-one has discussed really been able to discuss this long forgotten aspect of Eugen Langen’s monorail.

“It was not until 1899, one year after the start of the complex construction work on the scaffolding of the suspension railway, that the engineers of the responsible consortium recognized that individual sections of the route would differ significantly. Since it followed the course of the Wupper, the route was traversed at regular intervals by imposing curves and again and again opened the view of scenic views of the valley. But just the symbolic connection between Elberfeld and Barmen threatened to turn out particularly monotonous and extremely poor in highlights.”

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The architectural drawings for the Loher Looping – circa 1899. Source: Facebook

And so the Loher Looping was born! Imagine the thrill as the Schwebebahn’s trains hurtled round the Loher Looping and sped up the passenger’s journey to the line’s end at Oberbarmen. This is exactly why the railway was built on a continuous incline from Vohwinkel down to the Wupper. One and half miles of continuous descent would be sufficient to accelerate the trains enough and send them through the Loher Looping 🙂

Imagine the thrill as the trains reached the bottom of that incline and swung out as they veered off the Sonnborn onto the course of the Wupper before doing that fantastic up and over bit!

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The aforementioned section at Sonnborner, practically the bottom of the long incline from Vohwinkel and where the trains turn quite sharply to follow the Wupper. Exciting curve yes but not quite as much as had they built the Loher Looping further along. Picture: WSW

Sadly the Elberfeld authorities didn’t think much of this idea even though it had too been proposed for a new passenger railway between Kensington and Hyde Park Corner in London during the 1860s. The French had entertained the idea a few years earlier with their Chemin de Centrifuge of 1846. It seems somehow the idea of sending passengers into an inverted frenzy was just not on. The excitingly sharp curves along the sinuous Wupper River would have to suffice and without doubt they have to this day quite reasonably.

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Britain’s rather wooden concept of a looping railway at Crystal Palace in the early 1900s. It was short, sharp and easily forgotten….

The inspiration for the Loher Looping probably came form the Flip Flap, Coney Island, of 1895. This short lived ride made way for another at London’s Crystal Palace, the Topsy Turvy Railway, which managed several seasons from 1903 onwards. The problems with these early concepts is the designs were just not good enough for people’s backs or necks because of whiplash – possibly the reason for not constructing the Loher Looping.

Thus the world had to wait for the more modern roller coaster designs to be created, the first of which was seen in the late 1950s where passengers were held in place with special braces and headrests to avoid any injury occurring. But imagine that the Schwebehan’s Loher Looping had indeed been built it would have most fantastic. Obviously health and safety would not allow this sort of stuff on public transport these days even if its passengers were braced safely!

More information on the Loher Looping here.

Looping picture and quoted text by courtesy of Jens Robbers Design, Wuppertal.

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