VITZNAU – RIGI – Niklaus Riggenbach

Born in Alsace in 1817, Niklaus Riggenbach studied at the Basel grammar school. Being told that he lacked aptitude for a business career, he worked for a while in a factory where he became fascinated with mechanical processes and precision engineering in particular. In Paris he attended lectures at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers. While in Paris, the St. Germain railway was opened and Riggenbach found his true vocation: building locomotives. In 1847 he drove the Swiss Railway’s first steam locomotive from Karlsruhe to Zurich. Four years later, after a stay of several months in England, Riggenbach was employed by the Swiss Central Railway Board to manage the main railway works at Olten. It was there that he conceived the idea of overcoming steep gradients by means of a rack-and-pinion mechanism.Appreciating the Rigi’s unique position, Riggenbach decided to construct the Vitznau – Rigi mountain railway. He took out French patents for his revolutionary invention – the track-and-pinion funicular. Locomotive No. 1, the «Stadt Luzern», successfully made its maiden run on a 300 meter stretch on Riggenbach’s birthday, May 21, 1870, and exactly one year later, Europe’s first mountain railway was inaugurated.

Release Dates



  • Coin Alloy Name: Alpaca 12
  • Coin Alloy Color: silver
  • Coin Diameter: 31
  • Coin Thickness: 2,25
  • Coin Edge: serrated, fine
  • City: VITZNAU - RIGI
  • Country: Switzerland
  • Available: no
  • Location: VITZNAU - RIGI, Switzerland