"This is how we used to go up to the alp," says Toni Matter, chairman of the board of Engelberg-Fürenalp AG, pointing to a black-and-white photo showing his wife with three children on a transport cable car. This railway was in operation from 1925 to 1979 and comprised two sections. The first section took the alpine farmers from the valley to Hohmatt and from there the second section took them to the alp "Vorder Füren", which is only a few minutes' walk from the alp "Hinter Füren". The alp "Hinter Füren" has been owned by the Matter family for generations. In the past, the family lived on the alp during the summer months and occasionally used the water-powered transport cable car to save themselves the arduous climb.
An unpleasant transport with positive consequences
Since the railway was only approved as a transport cableway and the transport of people involved certain risks, the decision was made - for this reason among others - to build a new railway. Another major influence on the new railway project was the development of tourism in Engelberg. With a smile on his face, Toni Matter recounts: "On the day of the inspection of the planned Fürenalp railway, we took the transport cable car up to Fürenalp with the representatives of the various offices. The representatives were so scared that they voluntarily took the hiking trail back down to the valley. After about ten days, the building permit for the new cable car was on the table".
In 1977, the go-ahead was given for the construction of the new railway and in July 1979 it was put into operation for the first time. The same year also saw the public inauguration of the Fürenalp mountain restaurant. "It still has to be taken into account here that Fürenalp has only been connected to the electricity grid since November 2006," Toni explains. "Before that, electricity was generated with the help of an emergency power group and cooking was done with gas.
An idyll far from the daily hustle and bustle
Fürenalp offers countless possibilities for young and old, whether sporty or leisurely. Those who long for relaxation in a mountain-fresh climate will get their money's worth on Fürenalp. Fürenalp impresses with a breathtaking panorama, because here the mountains are close enough to touch.
My recommendation: Enjoy the panoramic hike from Engelberg to Fürenalp and then a spritzer on the sun terrace of the Fürenalp mountain restaurant.
If the weather is bad, an alternative is to admire the old transport cable car in the Museum of Transport in Lucerne.
Irina Reinle grew up in the mountains and loves to spend her free time in nature. Fürenalp is one of her favourite places in Engelberg because she can switch off and recharge her batteries in this special place.
Picture: Fürenalp Bahn, Engelberg