150 - Georg SIGL (1811 - 1887) [1]

SIGL was an Austrian Maschinenbauer. He had invented and patented in 1873 a new cable car system in Austria and Germany (e.g. Sachsen) [2] under the title of: 

Verbesserungen an den Seilbahnen und den auf diesen angewandeten Wagen

SIGL built a cable car track according to his invention around 1874 in Vienna on the so-called “Sophienalp”.

A British magazine reported the following on SIGL’s Vienna cable-car system: [3]

‍ Mr. George Sigl, the great Vienna engineer, has invented a new system of mountain railway, which, as regards cheapness, simplicity, and the small power necessary to work it, exceeds all others.

The system is designed both for passenger and freight traffic, and a working station has been built and opened to the public on the charming property of Mr. Sigl, near Vienna, called “ Mount Sofienalpe,” one of the most delightful look-outs in the large wood situated westward from Vienna, “ the Wienerwald.”

The new wire-cable railway runs from the end of the small Haltervalley, near the Western Railway Station, Hütteldorf, to the top of the Mount Sofienalpe, in a straight line of about 650 yards in length.

Here a restaurant has been established, which Mr. Sigl has enlarged by transferring there one of the great German annex-buildings, which had been erected in the year 1873 at the Exhibition grounds between the great Industrial Palace and the Machinery Hall.

The railway itself was examined and approved by the general board of inspection of the Austrian railways, who gave permission for passenger traffic, and has been in full operation.

The line when in operation offers a very singular aspect, especially the little four-seat carriages running on the rails, the latter being laid on sleepers in the ordinary manner.

Between the rails, on small sheaves, covered with india-rubber for avoiding noise, the carriages are drawn up and down by a ¾-in. wire-cable, which goes upwards in centre of the right line, turning, at the top of the hill, over a horizontal driving-wheel 8 ft. in diameter, returning in the centre of the down-line, whilst at the station at the foot of the hill is another pulley of the same diameter (the latter being equal to the distance from track-axis to track-axis), but fixed in a more inclined position, and conducting the cable again into the direction of the up-line axis. Both at the upper and lower stations the cable disappears under the ground, vertical pulleys leading it to the great head-wheels at both ends.

The upper one of these two head-wheels is fixed in a beam which is in direct connection with the engine; the lower one, on the contrary, is mounted in an oscillating plumber-block.

The engine itself (and that is one of the most important advantages of this new system), is only a 12-horse-power portable engine; a second one of the same power has been placed in the engine-house as a reserve.

The cable has, at certain intervals in its length, iron knobs, and on the lower part of the carriages an apparatus is arranged on a screw-shaft, the double duty of which is, first, to embrace the iron knobs, when they pass under the carriage, which must before be brought in the proper position, and secondly, to stop the carriage immediately should the cable break.

It must be confessed that this double problem has been resolved in an admirable way, although it was the sole condition under which the imperial government would give permission for the employment of this system for passenger traffic.

The wire-cable in use here has been delivered by the well- known German firm, Felten and Guilleaume, of Cologne. The cable is composed of six strands of seven wires each, consequently of forty-two cast-steel wires, the total cross section of which represents about half a square inch. The guaranteed strength of the cable is 34,000 lbs.

On 25 November 1873, SIGL applied for a brevet d’importation, based on the corresponding patent granted in Sachsen, under the title of:

Nouveau système de locomotion sur plan incliné ou sur plan horizontal au moyen d’un cable sans fin

He was represented by Charles August MUNCHEN. The initial title was: « Système perfectionné de chemin de fer à petite traction ».

The application was sent to the Chambre de commerce for examination on 26 November 1873. Three months later the Conseiller de Gouvernement enquired:

Je vous prie de bien vouloir me renvoyer, dûment instruite et avec avis, la demande de Monsieur Georges Sigl de Vienne tendant à lui faire obtenir un brevet d'invention et d’importation …

On 13 October 1874, the Government still had not received the requested examination report and the Conseiller wrote again to the Chambre de commerce:

Je vous serais très obligé de vouloir bien me faire parvenir sans retard ultérieur votre avis sur la demande en obtention d'un brevet d'invention et d’importation du sieur Georges Sigl de Vienne qui vous a été communiquée par requête du 26 septembre 1873 et rappelée par celle du 24 février 1874.

Finally, on 5 July 1876, the experts named by the Chambre de commerce, Oscar BELANGER and E. SALENTINY, issued their report (drafted by the latter):

Les soussignés … après avoir examiné minutieusement les détails descriptifs soumis à l’appui, déclarent que le procédé du demandeur présente de l'utilité, qu'il est inconnu dans le pays et qu'à leur avis il y aurait lieu d'accorder le brevet sollicité, mais d’en limiter la durée à cinq ans.

The Chambre de commerce agreed to the grant and the patent was issued on 9 August 1876. [4]

SIGL published ads for his “Patent-Drahtseilbahn” in Austrian publications … [5]



[1] Wikipedia

[2] Dresden, 28 October 1873

[3] The Practical Magazine, Vol. 6, 1876 pages 171-172 

[4] The administrative file does not give any clues as to why it took more than 2 years for the Chambre de commerce to provide its opinion to the Government.

[5] Österreichische Zeitschrift für Berg- und Hüttenwesen, 1875, Volume 23, page 230