Rhaetia 1

The history of our No. 1

She has plenty of pages, the Rhätische Bahn (RhB). In 1889 she opened the first page of her success story : the steam-engine G 3/4 No. 1 with the well sounding name RHAETIA pulls the opening train of the former Landquart-Davos (LD) railway company from Landquart through the Prättigau up to Davos.

The RHÆTIA provides besides its technical, economic and industrial history mainly a high idealistic value; for RhB, for Canton Graubünden but also for many railway fans throughout the world. It has a special standing among the comprehensive historical rolling stock collection of RhB: It is the historical “Flagship”.

Since 2014 the wheels of RHÆTIA are at a standstill. It has numerous age-related ailments: its boiler has to be rehabilitated and the fire box has to be replaced. The brake linkage, the coupling rods, the axle and rod bearings need professional overhauling and the thrust and working cylinders of the steam engine must thoroughly be revised. Last but not least, the driving wheel sets need new wheel bands.

The Club 1889 has restored, besides others, two historical passenger wagons and a baggage wagon, originating from the period 1889 to 1897. Thanks to this a complete train composition of the founder years of RhB can be arranged for RHAETIA. This increases the value immensely the more as most of the railway companies cannot provide such a train composition in 1:1 originating from the founder years.

 The Project Group RHÆTIA, comprising of members of the historic RhB clubs, want to bring back the steam engine as far as possible to its original visual state at the time of delivery to LD, so that it can continue to operate as an important historical steam monument of the Bündner train fleet for railway fans old and young.

Years of operation, 1889 – 1928

The predecessors of Rhätische Bahn AG, called “AG Schmalspurbahnen (Narrow gauge railways) Landquart – Davos (L-D) ordered in the first place for the route Landquart- Davos five wet-steam tank locomotives of the type G3/4 (“Mogul”) from Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik Winterthur (SLM), numbers 1 – 5 and named “RHAETIA”, “Prättigau”, “Davos”, “Flüela” and “Engadin”. The names of those steam engines were supposed to demonstrate in which direction the network of LD would develop, under the leadership of the bustling and well known Dutch founder Willem Jan Holsboer. The commissioning of RHAETIA took place on July 8, 1889. Besides those five steam engines the rolling stock comprised of 18 two-axle passenger wagons, three baggage cars and 21 freight wagons. Already in 1893 axles and wheels were replaced at the locomotive. In addition RHÆTIA No. 1 received a new fire box as early as in 1894. In the beginning the numbers 1 – 3 were fitted with large snowploughs. Urged by the Spa Davos all locomotives received air cleaners after 1899. 

Presumably 1895/1896 RHÆTIA received a new inscription by the newly founded RhB and lost its name. Upon delivery of the more powerful Mallet-locomotives the smaller G3/4 were used mainly as leader engines or to pull light freight trains. As from then on the mostly more powerful and new steam engines carried out the “mountain services”. In the years from 1910 RhB used the G3/4 mainly for pulling material trains for the increasing network under construction. After delivery of the G4/5 tender locomotives the G 3/4 went into the reserve. After the completion of electrification and the start-up of modern, more powerful and less cost intensive electric engines, the RHÆTIA was taken out of service in 1928.

The pension years, 1928 up to today

Most probably under the assumption that RHÆTIA could be served as a monument locomotive lateron, RhB refrained from scrapping it and stored it at Landquart. When in 1942 the “Verein Verkehrshaus der Schweiz”, with participation of SBB and the former PTT, was founded in Zürich, the RhB in 1947 handed over No. 1 to SBB as a loan.
But the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz could open only in 1959 near Vierwaldstättersee after they had got the respective plot of land from the city of Luzern.
Unfortunately – or luckily – RHÆTIA did not find a place in the rolling stock collection. Following this RHÆTIA had to change its storing place three times: from the tram depot of public transport company Zürich at Wiedikon to depot Vallorbe and to Depot Chexbres-Villages. 1970 museum railway “Blonay-Chamby” (BC) took care of it and refurbished it for operation. BC installed a Friedmann-lubrication pump and a turbo-generator for electric illumination. RHAETIA, from 1980 to 1988 during summertime, was then involved in pulling museum trains of BC on the BC lines, but also on the lines of MOB (Montreux-Oberland-Bahn) and GFM (Chemin de fer fribourgeois Gruyère-Fribourg-Morat).

In view of the proposed great anniversary “100 years RhB” of 1989 those responsible at RhB decided not to prolong the loan agreement with BC and to have returned RHAETIA to Graubünden. It required quite some negotiating skills and instinct since the persons responsible at BC, after having overhauled “their” locomotive thoroughly, did not like the idea of giving it back. Up to 2014 RHÆTIA was used to pull nostalgic trains, much to the pleasure of railway fans from near and far. In particular there are worth mentioning the sensational trips at Bernina, at the former Misoxer railway as well as back at BC during their 40-years anniversary in 2008. During the anniversary year 2014 “125 years RhB” RHÆTIA was last in service.
Shortly thereafter it was realized that on account of old-age damages at the fire-box, at the water tubes and on the chassis it must no longer be put into operation. Since then it is carefully stored at the RhB depot Landquart.  

Rückkauf-Vertrag B-C _RhB

Original Scan Rückkauf.pdf (1.4 MiB)
Technical specifications G 3/4
Technische Daten  
Nummerierung 1-16
Anzahl 5 1. Serie (1889)
3 2. Serie (1893)
8 3. Serie (1901-1908)
Hersteller SLM (Winterthur)
Achsformel 1'C
Bauart Nassdampf- Zwillingsmaschine
Gattung Tenderlokomotive
Länge über Puffer 7945mm
Leergewicht 23.5t
Dienstgewicht 30.2t
Höchstgeschwindigkeit 45 km/h
Dauerleistung 184 kW (250 PS) bei 20 km/h
Dauerkraft 3300kg bei 20 km/h
Treibraddurchmesser 1'050mm
Laufraddurchmesser 700mm
Zylinderdurchmesser 340mm
Kolbenhub 500mm
Kesselüberdruck 12bar
Wasservorrat 2'600 Liter
Brennstoffvorrat (Kohle) 950kg
Detailed list of all G 3 /4 of LD and RhB
Operating number Commissioning Serial number Name Phasing out Retention
1 08.07.1889 577 RHÆTIA 1928 1 1928-1970 various locations in Switzerland (parked)
1970 Blonay-Chamby (operative condition)
as from 1988 back at RhB (operative condition)
since 2014 (out of operation)
2 05.08.1889 578 PRAETTIGAU 1925 scrapped
3 16.08.1889 579 DAVOS 1917 Prinz-Heinrich-Bahn (No. S3), 1943 DR 99 271, 1945 CFL 351, scrapped 1954
4 10.10.1889 580 FLUELA 1917 Prinz-Heinrich-Bahn (No. S5), 1943 DR 99 272, 1945 CFL 352, scrapped 1954
5 13.10.1889 581 ENGADIN 1917 Prinz-Heinrich-Bahn (No. S6), 1943 DR 99 273, 1945 CFL 353, scrapped 1954
6 05.03.1896 960 LANDQUART 1923 1923 sold to Administracao Portuaria do Recife (harbour authority of Recife, Pernambuco State) in Brazil; missing
7 19.03.1896 961 CHUR 1923 1923 to Centovalli railway company, scrapped 1943
8 01.04.1896 962 THUSIS 1923 1923 to Centovalli railway company, scrapped 1943
9 10.06.1901 1369 - 1926 1926 to Brünigbahn (SBB No. 127) scrapped 1941
10 25.06.1901 1370 - 1926 1926 to Brünigbahn (SBB No. 128) scrapped 1941
11 08.01.1903 1476 - (later Heidi) 1977 1977 to Modelrailfriends Eiger, 1999 to Club 1889, since 2015 back in operation at Samedan (RhB)
12 23.01.1903 1477 - 1923 1923 to Steelworks Sagunt, Spain (No. 207 “Algimia”), scrapped around 1970
13 06.02.1903 1478 - 1950 scrapped 1950
14 06.02.1903 1479 - (later Madlaina) 1972 1972 to Steamloki association Appenzeller Railway (operative condition)
15 31.07.1908 1910 - 1924 1924 to Brünigbahn (SBB No. 215), scrapped 1942
16 31.07.1908 1911 - 1924 1924 to Brünigbahn (SBB No. 216), scrapped 1942

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Verbleib G 3/4 LD / RhB (75.1 KiB)

Historical appreciation of RHÆTIA

The significance of RHÆTIA from the perspective of preservation of historical monuments is explained in short in a documentation “Significance of Preservation and Assessment of historic vehicles of RhB”. This documentation was established on behalf of Bündner Monument Care in 2008 by Hans-Peter Bärtschi of ARIAS Industriekultur, Winterthur with the aim to prioritize investments from the part of Monument Care. Following points are of interest in case of RHÆTIA:

– RHÆTIA is of national importance being one of the oldest locomotives of Switzerland and “founder locomotive” of Rhätische Bahn
– RHÆTIA represents the formerly very popular ¾ coupled tank locomotive type of the first manufacturing phase
– RHÆTIA maintained in almost original condition
– RHÆTIA is witness of very early endeavours of preservation of a historical railway vehicle

More info regarding the appreciation of RHAETIA as well as of the remaining historical rolling stock of RhB you will find here.