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The big story of a little red car

11 October 2018

The idyllic Fürenalp, surrounded by magnificent Alpine peaks, is 1,850 metres above sea level. It can be reached on foot or, more quickly and conveniently, in a small eight-seater cable car. It may not look like much, but it has a fascinating story behind it.

“This is how we used to get up to the Fürenalp,” says Toni Matter, president of the supervisory board of Engelberg-Fürenalp AG. He points at a black-and-white photo that shows his wife and three children on a simple ropeway conveyor. The ropeway was in operation from 1925 to 1979 and had two sections. The first took Alpine herdsfolk from the valley up to Hohmatt, the second went on to the Vorder Füren pasture, just a few minutes’ walk from the Hinter Füren pasture, which has been kept by the Matter family for generations. The family used to live up on the pasture in the summer months and would occasionally use the water-powered ropeway to save themselves the arduous climb up.

An unpleasant ride with happy consequences
Since the ropeway was only approved for conveying goods, and carrying people was a risky business, the decision was finally made to build a new facility. There were other motivating factors behind that decision, however. One was the development of tourism in Engelberg. Toni Matter cannot help grinning as he relates an anecdote from those days: “On the day that representatives of various administrative bodies came to view the planned route, we took them up to the Fürenalp on the ropeway. They were so worried about having to descend the same way that they chose to hike back down into the valley. Just ten days later, the building permit for the new cableway was ready.”

Work began in 1977, and in July 1979 the line was inaugurated. That same year saw the opening of the Fürenalp mountain restaurant. “You mustn’t forget that the Fürenalp has only be connected to the electricity grid since 2006,” says Toni. “Before that, electricity came from a generator and all the cooking was done with gas.”

A mountain idyll far from the hustle and bustle
Visitors of all ages can enjoy a wide range of leisure activities, both active and sedate, on the Fürenalp. It’s a wonderful place to relax, unwind, and breathe in lungfuls of fresh mountain air. It has magnificent panoramic views, with mighty peaks so close you feel you could reach out and touch them.

Tips for things to do:
I heartily recommend hiking the Panorama Trail from Engelberg to the Fürenalp and enjoying a drink on the sunny terrace of the Fürenalp mountain restaurant. If the weather isn’t playing along, instead you can take a trip to the Museum of Transport in Lucerne and view the famous old transport gondola.

Written by: Irina Reinle
Irina Reinle grew up in the mountains and enjoys spending her free time in nature. The Fürenalp is one of their favorite places in Engelberg, as they can switch off at this special place and recharge their batteries.
Images: Fürenalp cable car, Engelberg