Winter in Romania 2015 - 4: Lumberjacks around the Campfire (50 p.) is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.


Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Winter in Romania 2015 - 3: Steam into Vaser Valley (50 p.)

Link to the video:

Resources about the Vaser Valley Railway:

Official page of the railway including information about rolling stock and hotel train

Map of the line, please click to enlarge

More information about the railway and its historyăniță (in German)

February 15 2015

We return to Suligu where 764-435 was taking water in the late afternoon sun. By the way, others took that same picture with me jumping across the stream... ;-)

A photo run through the valley hazy due to steam.

Full steam ahead across the bridge.

Just at Faina we passed a last small spot of sun, the rest of the valley stayed in the shade now. We stopped in front of this rustic hut where a short bit of track seemed endangered by a landslide.

At about five o'clock we reached Coman, the current end of the line. As the border to the Ukraine is situated on top of the 5000 ft high ridge in the background a Romanian border police post can be found here.

Points had to be cleaned of snow before reversing.

Due to the altitude and less sun reaching the valley ground we encountered wintry conditions.

Subsequently we rolled downhill to Valea Babii, our accommodation for the night consisting of dorms intended for pupils. As youngest I volunteered to sleep on top of the bunk beds. Electricity for lighting was only available from a diesel generator which would be switched off at night. The only challenge was the outhouse (of type: hole in the ground), at temperatures below freezing it was imperative to act quickly and if possible to take a headlamp into the absolute darkness. Apart from that every room was equipped with a wood-burning stove, we immediately put more wood on the fire. Soon goulash - which we had brought in the train with us - was served in the dinner room, also mamaliga (kind of polenta) - which I had to decline due to cheese on top. This was not well received by our hostess, she tried to slip me a portion several times, but at least I tried some of the hard booze.

Later the spectacle of every Vaser Valley tour - the nightly campfire - was lit outside.

Finally I could test how the 5D Mk III coped with ISO 25600, all photos were taken freehand.

The fire was blazing fiercely and you felt the heat, but of course it could not compare in brightness to artificial lighting.

Locals and loco crew had gathered as well.





February 16 2015

During the night we constantly added wood to the fire, the iPod also stayed in the ear to dampen the noises of our two senior roommates. In the morning we joked that we had spent the night at a sawmill. However, we soon stopped joking as someone suddenly noticed his wallet including all IDs missing... despite joint searching efforts and a finder's fee it did not turn up again until the end of the week. Probably it is still waiting somewhere in the forest along the Ukrainian border...

Woke up in... Wales? What's the Fairlie engine doing in front of our window?

The "baza didactica" Valea Babii of a grammar school in Viseu featuring quite strange frescoes. Probably only the naughtiest children are shipped here.

Next highlight of a Vaser Valley tour: logging...

... with horses!

We shortly walked uphill on the line, at the lumber loading ramp one lumberjack quickly cut down the covering shrubs with a chainsaw - no railway enthusiast wielding a jigsaw can keep up with that! Next a fitting tree was singled out in the vicinity, somehow this scene reminded me of a Bruegel-painting.

Cutting wood was quick and precise, you can follow it best on video - see link above - from minute 21:03.

The new railway safety system - Active German Shepherd Surveillance. Best used if a bear is to be expected around every corner.

The tree trunk was attached to the drawbar and dragged towards the loading ramp.

The animals did not always follow as planned, but that is in their nature. Always when I witnessed horses working during the trip they bolted some time or other. In this case we only narrowly escaped a premature end by trunk-battering-ram.

The loco had shunted an "unfolded" articulated wagon to the ramp. The separate bogies are only held together by rope, which allows for pull but not push. These made-to-measure logs served as a ramp.

Smaller and larger logs already waiting in place were loaded, sometimes not without difficulties.

Definitely no safe job.

After the first layer was in place, the ramp-logs were shifted upward.

A heavy chunk.


It's just a small one.

Then the freshly cut tree was measured by axe shaft lengths and cut into two logs, one part being loaded onto the wagon, the other reattached to the horses.



764-435 hauled the wagon past the workers, however, we would not take it down the valley, we were about to take over a larger load later on.

After work the drawbar was stored behind the shed.

At Miraj (by chance also the name of a railway junction in India) we waited to cross the first uphill production train. This Monday morning 87-0032 was pulling workers in passenger coaches, a digger, fuel tank cars and hay for the horses.

At Faina we took a break, this is a view from a bridge across Vaser River.

Above the station you can spot a chapel erected in 1900 in the name of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. During the Austro-Hungarian monarchy this region had been part of the Hungarian territory.

Awaiting the next production train inside the loco cab.

View ahead with 87-0033 and a long train of empty wagons - loaded ones were stabled as well, but we still did not take those.

At the tourist terminal Paltin we were out of the cloud cover and waited for the next train meetings.

As special treat we crossed the steam train of another group of photographers. In the foreground you can see benches for seasonal visitors, catering is also provided here in summer. Regular tourist trains from Viseu reverse here, including an 1 1/2 hour break. Last September a thousand people had been here on one day alone, transported by five steam trains!

We met 764-408R "Cozia-1" (Reghin #605 / built 1985), soon the first of the "photographers" jumped out. They were of the type where someone might take a picture of a flower, upon which the others gather around and admire the crispness of the image. Of course such people always own the newest and most expensive equipment, that's absolutely necessary...
By the way - as you can see, "level" is relative in Vaser Valley.

Thankfully the other train soon moved on.

But before we could continue another one came uphill hauled by rod-driven diesel "Ecaterina".

The workers probably were travelling with their luggage for a whole week sitting on a pile of rails.

At Novicior the British Ford Transit-draisine was shunting, empty wagons were pulled by TAF onto the private siding and we received loaded ones.

At Cozia station we let a downhill production train with 87-0033 pass. These often transported a giant load, over 20 loaded wagons, almost impossible to capture in one image.

Only two minutes later our steam train - now also hauling a proper load - departed. The engine assistant had to sprint ahead as the point had not yet been set correctly.

Next time we will return to Viseu with our loaded train and steam uphill again the following day hauled by "Cozia-1"! :)


Ronik: These are wonderful photographs! What an opportunity to be able to record this logging operation. Well done my friend! Thanks for sharing. From Dan Simmering


Ronik, you have out done yourself again. I thank you. You present a great glimpse into your part of the world. Not only the trains but the people and their life. Thanks again. Tom Z.


Here is the locomotive that I ran for 9 hours yesterday. It is at our Zoo. It runs on about 1-1/2 miles of track with some nice hills. It is an 1890 Krauss Loco and has many similarities to the Vasser valley engines.

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