The Brocken Railway, so named for the mountain summit
it runs to, is part of the classic Harz Narrow Gauge Railways
network. After long-discussed plans to build a railway up the
mountain dating back to the 1860s, construction work on the line
began in 1896. The first trains ran to the mid-point of Schierke in
June 1898, and whilst the mountain peak was reached the following
year, for many years this was the line's winter terminus. The
railway soon proved to be a popular tourist attraction, and enjoyed
great success for a number of years.
The railway suffered bomb damage during the Second World War, and in the following years control of the line passed to East Germany. From this time until reunification, the summit was off limits to all but the Soviet forces - and the line was used to carry troops, coal and supplies to the military base.
On reunification the exhausted railway was privatized, and it continued to use the steam engines it had always used. Since being reopened to the public, the line has proved to be incredibly popular, thanks to the vintage steam-hauled services and wonderful mountainous landscape of the Harz National Park.