On This Day: The Wuppertaler Schwebebahn in 1913

On this day 102 years ago—January 8, 1913—a photographer in Wuppertal, Barmen [Eds note: Barmen merged with other nearby towns in 1930 to become Wuppertal], Germany, captured this image of the unique suspension railway that runs through the town, with cars hanging above the Wupper River. The 13 km rail system known as the Wuppertaler Schwebebahn had just been completed 12 years before, and became well-used by locals—by 1925 the company claims it had transported almost 20 million passengers. The Schwebebahn is also famous for an incident in 1950, when a young circus elephant named Tuffi was given a ride as a stunt. Tuffi apparently was not a fan of the railway, causing a ruckus on board that led to her falling out a window, dropping 12 meters to the river below. Tuffi survived with just a scrape, living to the age of 43. The Wuppertaler Schwebebahn remains in operation to this day, carrying around 25 million passengers a year. See a current Google Maps street view version of the photo below.

[Editor's note: This is the first of a new semi-regular series called "On This Day" at The Atlantic's new Photo section. From time to time, I'll be posting single images from the archives, taken on the same calendar date some time in the past.]

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