Mountainous East '03 - 3: Climbing the Tatras (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Connecting East '03 - 2: Poprad (50 p.)

August 20 2003

We have arrived at Vel'ký Slavkov, one stop from Poprad.

The metre-gauge Tatra Electric Railway crossing fields before climbing mountains. In 2003 you can still spot pristine forests along the slopes of the mountain range, just a year later - on November 19 2004 - a winter storm destroyed 50% of all trees on the Slovakian side, leaving behind a 1 1/2-mile-wide, 30-mile-long swathe of destruction.

On July 13 2014 I captured then 102-years-old Tatranská Kométa EMU going uphill.

Three times the same GTW winding its way down the now stark mountainside on December 18 2007.

In front of Vel'ký Slavkov backdrop.

Poprad already in view.

Dolný Smokovec station.

Starý Smokovec junction was busy around noon of August 20 2003, once more with an old 420.95 still in operation.

We walked to the Starý Smokovec - Hrebienok funicular, the classic vehicles have since been replaced by modern ones in 2007.

The line still was curving through dense forest.


After a hike from the summit station: view of Lomnický Stít peak.

We reached it from the other side by gondola cableway Tatranská Lomnica - Skalnaté Pleso on July 17 2011.

From there the aerial cableway leads up 8635 ft high Lomnický Stít. Even though we arrived in the morning, we were only offered tickets for late afternoon, so we remained at the intermediate station next to the lake.

I even encountered a track at almost 6000 ft altitude, leading to 1943-built Skalnaté Pleso observatory.

Back at Starý Smokovec with heritage railcar.

On December 18 2007 we still encountered a class 420.95, but only transporting timber from the storm damage.

Through the window of the GTW towards Strbské Pleso we could take a photo of the one descending simultaneously to Poprad - you can imagine the amount of destruction in this photo, almost like after a nuclear strike...

At Nový Smokovec the line passes a Protestant and a modern Catholic church.

360°-view from a road bridge between Tatranská Polianka and Danielov Dom, without road bridge.

Already in 2003 tickets were sold on-board by electronic handheld machines.

In the morning of beautiful July 17 2011 I took a train to Nová Polianka.

You can spot a westbound freight with shiny double loco and banker just leaving Poprad down in the valley.

Departing Nová Polianka halt.

Arrival at Strbské Pleso terminal, already modernized on 20. 8. 2003.

At the name-giving lake, for the Nordic ski world championships in 1970 two ski jumping hills had been erected.

On July 14 2011 we had booked our accommodation in one of these typical triangle-shaped mountain hotels.

View from my room.

On July 16 2011 we started a mountain hike in mystical fog.

We reached the ridge above Vel'ké Hincovo Pleso but turned around as we could not see further in the low clouds.

The same morning I already had taken the rack railway down to Strba.

Morning fog at Strbské Pleso.

The rack railway Strba - Strbské Pleso had been rebuilt in 1970 for the championships mostly on the route of an abandoned 19th century line. Three units of class 405.95 were delivered by Swiss SLM Winterthur.


Tatra evening glow in December 2007. Also notice the reflection inside the lamps.

On July 14 2011 I walked a bit down the line.

The intermediate stop Tatranský Lieskovec, and the closable weatherproof terminal/depot at Strba.

Shortly before Christmas 2007.

R 607 from Bratislava arrived punctually at Strba station.

Later this local took us to Poprad.

Next time we will - shortly - return to Vienna, with more historic pictures from the ride. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.