Military narrow-gauge railway Logatec-Črni Vrh-Idrija 1916-1917

Returning from "brnjav"

»Words dont hurt. We will ask. If the accompanying soldiers will allow us to pile onto full wagons, we will not refuse such kindness. Not in any way and at any cost. So we were lucky and blessed to ride the first and last railway that ever connected Idrija with the outside world. The iron road was narrow-gauge, and small wagons, “hunts” as we call them, moved along it, and they were pulled by an equally small gasoline locomotive. The train did not have a prescribed timetable, nor stations and measured stops. It stopped where it wanted to and where it had to. The most frequent stops were caused by derailed wagons. No wonder, the track was built hastily, and it was built by prisoners of war, mainly Russians. Well, we also encountered an example of derailment and quickly took advantage of the opportunity. Somehow we came to an agreement with the Germans and Hungarians. We made it to the top of the loaded wagon…

… We were not alone on the train. It was constantly picking off soldiers and civilians. The journey was slow, as the heavily laden wagons were pulled only by a small locomotive, which ran out of breath from time to time. She had to stop and take an honest breath. We went through Hotedršica and Godovič without fear or tense nerves. Beyond Godovič, the track turned onto French Road, which connects the Godovič–Črni Vrh road with the road that comes in serpentines from Podrteja…

… After a few kilometers of the road, the track turned to the right from the road and approached the edge of the plateau, which drops steeply into the Zala gorge, on the embankments that are still preserved today. We drove along this edge and gazed with fear into the chasms where the wild goat lives. There was nothing pleasant around the heart. Sitting on a rocking wagon and looking straight into the water of the Zala gorge required a certain amount of courage. The wagons danced incessantly on the temporary tracks, swung left and right, shuddered at every contact of the rails and threatened to jump first onto the embankment, and from it down the slope into the deep and dark valley.

Even the small locomotive was repeatedly frightened by the precipices, shuddered and came to a sudden stop. As if she was catching her breath and wanted to rest. The first part of the nerve-wracking ride was behind us, we still had to do a ride on the northwest slope of the no less steep Pevec. The first part of the nerve-wracking ride was behind us, we still had to do a ride on the northwest slope of the no less steep Pevec. On the wooden bridge over the road at the top of the serpentines, the track reached its highest point…

… The route ran right above Divje jezero (Wild Lake) and above the narrow Idrijca gorge called Strug and slowly fell towards the valley. The brakes squealed and screeched increasingly. Into this music were added shouts and screams of German and Hungarian soldiers who braked the wagons. The stowaways, on the other hand, started to feel a real chill slowly running down their backs. Screams and roars echoed towards the top of (Mt.) Pevec, hitting the Idrijca riverbed and bouncing off its opposite banks. The nerves were getting more and more tense. The depths of the Wild Lake, the steep bank above Idrijca, rocks and precipices step in front of our eyes. The train beeped continuously and warned of readiness. Now it drove through a longer tunnel, which is still preserved today, creaking and squealing along the wooden bridges over the chasms and descending further and further towards the Idrijca riverbed. It was definitely not a smooth ride. It didn’t run past considerable fear either. We were left at the mercy of a temporary train, which, without any safety devices, was intended only for the transport of war material. It all depended on luck and chance. The worst could happen, which could be caused by a small error in the track, the locomotive or the wagons. A little further from today’s Vojko plaque and above the Idrijca bend, the train changed its direction again on a large wooden bridge. It turned back towards Idrija …

… From there it was not far to the fourth “žomf” (natural pool in local dialect) in Strug. The descent of the railway line ended here. The railway slipped onto the road by Idrijca. The brakes loosened and with them the tension on our nerves. That the fear was not completely unjustified is proven even today by the rumours of older people, that many wagons of this railway derailed and fell straight into the Wild Lake.”

This is how publicist Lado Božič vividly remembered his only ride on the military narrow-gauge railway to Idrija fifty years ago, when he and his mother were returning from a 2-day successful “brnjav”, with two backpacks full of potatoes, which they got for a few bottles of stolen gasoline. They had nothing to eat in Idrija, so in search of food they walked all the way to Vrhnika, Ljubljana Marshes and Poljanska Dolina. The full text of Božič’s article, in which the meaning of smuggling way of living called “brnjav” is also precisely illustrated, was published in 1968 in the 12th issue of Planinski vestnik (Mountain Gazetteer). The title of the article is Moja prva tura (My First Tour). There is more about “brnjav”, which was banned during the war and was considered “contraband”, in the conclusion of this article.

The sixth offensive

Soča Front, August 4, 1916. The Italian army launches a distractive attack on the positions of the defenders on the Doberdob plateau. The next day, the artillery bombardment of Gorica and the hinterland begins. It would have been one of those days when the Italian artillerymen more abundantly shook off the frustrations of the previous five unsuccessful offensives on the Soča battlefield, if the shelling had not intensified on August 6. It became clear to the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian 5th Army, which was defending the Soča Front, that this was a prelude to the next Italian offensive. The 6th Battle of Soča began.

Austria-Hungary, at the insistence of Germany, offered South Tyrol to opportunistic Italy for its neutrality. The Entente offered more, it mainly bargained with what was not its own – Slovenian territory, Triest, Istria, Dalmatia. The scent of a foreign land lured imperialist Italy to open a new front.

Despite the conquest of Krn in the first five offensives, the Italians failed to break through the front. The Tolmin and Gorica bridgeheads, from where they could penetrate further into the interior of the monarchy, did not fall. In the 6th Battle of Soča, Borojević retreated from Doberdob Plateau due to the danger of encirclement in the event of a successful Italian attack, ordered the evacuation of Gorica, had the Solkan bridge blown up and fortified defensive positions on the left bank of the Soča river. The occupation of empty Gorica did not bring the Italians anything from a military point of view, but they used it extensively for political propaganda. More important was the conquest of the strategically important Sabotin, which fell in less than an hour. The Italian infantry was on top when the defenders were still sheltering in the caverns from heavy artillery shelling. Cadorna then sensed the possibility of breakting through the Vipava valley and ordered continuous attacks, which did not bring success. The offensive ended on August 17, the taking of Gorica probably justified the loss of more than 50,000 Italian soldiers.

As the defenders were pushed to the left bank of the Soča, the Bohinj railway became an accessible target for the Italian army. Experienced artillerymen bombarded the track so violently that its part between Podmelec and Gorica became unusable. The train only ran as far as Grahovo in the Baška Grapa valley, and the supply of army units in the northern part of the front became difficult.

Cableways, mule tracks, standard and narrow-gauge railways

The units in the high mountain ranges of the Soška and Tyrolean fronts were supplied with the help of cableways, and engineers built mule tracks in many places. Horses, mules, porters and cableways delivered weapons and tools, ammunition, food, medical supplies, water, mail and everything the front needed. At that time, the roads were few, gravel and with steep slopes, and animal-assisted transport could not transport as much material as the battlefield required. Where the terrain allowed, parts of the front were supplied from the rear by the construction of military narrow-gauge railways. If possible, they were constructed on or beside existing roads.

In 1887, Central European railway administrations agreed that tracks with a width of 1435 mm are standard gauge. Anything less is considered narrow gauge, and anything wider is broad gauge. The most common gauges of narrow-gauge railways are between 600 and 950 millimeters. Railways with a track width of 600 mm are considered field railways, 760 millimeters is the “Bosnian” track width and was the most common on the territory of Austria-Hungary and Yugoslavia, and 950 mm is the “Italian” dimension. In between and up to standard is a range of different dimensions (eg 610, 750, 762, 891, 900, 914 millimeters…). The narrowest dimension is 381 mm (15 inches).

Comparison of different gauges

Comparison of different rail gauges: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q214519 (Public domain)

Narrow-gauge railways were originally built as local lines of an industrial character, for example forest railways and mining lines, they also connected individual plants in industrial complexes. The beginnings date back to around 1880, the expansion occurred in the first three decades of the last century.

In the languages of our southern neighbors, the term “Dekoviljska” railway is sometimes used for narrow-gauge lines. The languages of other nations also use this term (Eng. Decauville track, German: Dacauville-Bahn). The pioneer of the development of narrow-gauge industrial railways, Paul Decauville, in 1876 introduced the production of ready-made railway parts attached to the sleepers as a major innovation in his company Société Decauville. The company produced tracks with a width of 400, 500 and 600 millimeters for industrial use. The army became interested in his product, and in addition to France, other European countries used them in their colonies. Fortifications on the Maginot Line were equipped with 600 mm Decauville rails, both externally and internally.

During World War I, the Austro-Hungarian army built several narrow-gauge railways in the Karst area around Dutovlje (Dutovlje-Kostanjevica, Dutovlje-Gorjansko, Britof-Dutovlje), from Bohinjska Bistrica to Ukanc and others to supply the Soča Front. Bohinj narrow-gauge railway was also electrified towards the end of the war. The Italians established the Čedad-Sužid connection (near Kobarid), which was in use even after the war until 1932.

Feld, Feldbahn, Pferdefeldbahn

(NB: This paragraph explains to Slovene readers the use of German word Feld in it’s military meaning and in relation to word “poljski” (field), as Feld translates to Slovene. Slovene uses “poljski” for field as well as an adjective for Polish, anything originating or attributed to Poland, which needs to be distinguished.) Although the noun Feld means field in German, and in Slovenian translations we usually use the literal translation field (polje or poljski), it is necessary to draw attention to some facts. In the military terminology of German-speaking countries, Feld is a battlefield, a battleground where opposing sides meet and “bleed each other”. In this connection, the terms Feld Kompanie (combat company), Feld-Battalion (combat unit with 300-1000 soldiers), Feldlager (military camp or warehouse) and others arose in German. So the Feldbahn, where Bahn is German for railway, is basically a military railway. Nevertheless, even the Slovenian translation “poljski”, when used in the sense of a temporary facility, erected in the shortest possible time, with the least possible means and only to the extent that it serves the basic purpose (e.g. poljsko stranišče – field toilet), even though it does not have emphasized military connotations, it is also appropriate. According to this understanding, the Feldbahn, or slovenized feldban, can also be called “poljska železnica” (field railway). Of course, we have to understand that the Poles or the country of Poland have nothing to do with it. Since railway wagons were initially horse-drawn, the name Pferdefeldbahn (horse military railway) is also frequently used. In German, Loren is a tipping wagon that was used in mines and quarries, which is why the term Lorenbahn can also be found somewhere.

15. FFM_Archiv_MPSB_1.jpgFFM_Archiv_MPSB_1

Horse-drawn narrow-gauge railway. The photo was taken on a farm next to the MPSB – Mecklenburg-Pommerische-Schmalspurbahn (Mecklenburg-Pomeranian narrow-gauge railway), which, according to the source, was the longest railway with a gauge of 600 mm at that time, with a network of 250 km. The exact year of creation of this excellent photo is unknown, the time indicated is between 1890 and 1920. The tall horses pulling the composition are probably related to some North German breed of versatile (draft and riding) horses, such as Hanoverians or Holsteiners. (Source: Archiv Frankfurter Feldbahnmuseum e.V.)

Route selection and construction

After the 6th Battle of Soča, the command of the 5th Austro-Hungarian Army looked for other solutions to supply the front on the Tolmin bridgehead and on the Trnovski gozd (Trnovski forest) and Banjšice plateau due to the interruption of the Bohinj railway (German: Wocheinerbahn, Italian: Transalpina). Ajdovščina was eliminated due to exposure near the front line and Logatec was chosen as the new supply center. The Southern Railway between Vienna and Trieste ran through it. Its use was not disturbed, and Logatec was located on a plateau karst world, through which good macadam roads were run.

A large military depot already existed there, safe from Italian artillery. Even from planes. Despite the development of the air force during the war, air battles and more latent than destructive bombings were characteristic of the Western Front, the few aircraft on the Soča towards the end of the war were mainly used for reconnaissance purposes and did not threaten the deeper hinterland.

They decided to build a narrow-gauge railway, with the help of which the units on the new front line would be sufficiently supplied. From the railway station in Logatec, two tracks led to the main military warehouses, from where the goods were transhipped onto several feldban tracks. Next, the route was taken via Kalce and Hotedršica to Godovič. Construction proceeded quickly, up to a kilometer a day in good conditions. They used prefabricated (Decauville) tracks, a few meter long pieces of rails that were simply screwed together. It mostly ran along the existing macadam road.

In Godovič, the track turned left towards Črni Vrh. Just a good kilometer ahead, along the serpentine called Cestnikova rajda (Cestnik’s bend), one branch led towards Črni Vrh, and the other branch turned towards Idrija. The latter was later extended to Straža (Želin) and before the breakthrough of the front near Kobarid in the 12th offensive to Trebuša.

The railway had one track, on which traffic ran continuously, day and night. There were around 200 wagons on the entire feldbahn at any given time. Wagons (hunts) consisted of two two-axle bogies, each with its own braking system. A carrier platform was attached to these two carts. A loop was made in Godovič, allowing traffic to flow in both directions. Because of the slaughterhouse and the large kitchens where food was prepared for the front, one or more tracks were needed to load the wagons. Several side tracks were placed in front of Godovič and on other flat and wide sections.

Older locals from Godovič and the surrounding area remember their parents’ stories about those times. Ludvik Poženel says that his mother told him how, in addition to the screeching of the brakes, you could also hear the terrible moaning of the wounded, who were being taken from the front on wagons to the hospital in Logatec or further to Ljubljana.

Črni Vrh feldban branch

The route was taken from Godovič past Klavžar to Črni Vrh and further towards Zadlog. From Zadlog, the line ascended over Mala gora towards Trnovo forest plateau and continued through Mala Lazna to Poncala near Lokve, where it met the Prince Evgen (Archduke or Erzherzog Eugen in German) cable car, which led from Ajdovščina to the Banjšice Plateau. A circular military cable car was also launched from Zadlog, which connected to the cable car from Ajdovščina at Predmeja. At Črni Vrh, the feldban came closest to the lower station of the second cable car, where goods destined over the Col towards Ajdovščina and on to the Karst battlefield were transhipped.

For a division in full formation with 17,000 men and 8,000 horses, 120 tons of food and 250 tons of ammunition had to be transported daily. In order to facilitate the transportation of up to 800 tons of military material per day by rail, where individual wagons were horse-drawn, and each wagon could be loaded with up to 2.5 tons of cargo, it was necessary to build a track with as little incline as possible. Where the slopes were too steep, additional pair of horses was harnessed. The horses only pulled the wagons uphill. Where the wagons were running downhill on their own, the horses were untied and they returned by the shortcut to the valley at the beginning of the slope escorted by attendant or by themselves. Pastor Abram from Črni Vrh stated in the parish chronicle that 300 horses were housed in the stables of the locals in Zadlog to pull the wagons over the Mala gora (lit. Little Mountain).

Construction of the line began on August 15, 1916, and the first transports from Logatec to Zadlog (section 3) were carried out already on September 9 during the 7th offensive. The narrow gauge line between Zadlog and Mala Lazna (section 3b) was put into use just under 3 months later.

Compared to the Idrija branch of the feldban, the Črni Vrh line ran on a less demanding terrain from a construction point of view, but some embankments and cuttings were still required. In the 100 years since the end of the First World War, most of the route of the Črni Vrh feldban line has been lost under today’s road, under fields, meadows, pastures, later constructed forest roads and various excavations due to the expansion of settlements. Parts of the route, especially those with embankments or cuttings, are still visible in some places. Ivan Rudolf and Dejan Colja found and documented the forgotten route with the help of historical documents and with the cooperation of Ludvik Poženel. Ivan Rudolf, who lives in Črni Vrh, established a military museum and, with the cooperation of several authors, edited and self-published the collection Črni Vrh under Austria-Hungary.

The line was built by the Horse-drawn military railways company, labor sections mainly of Russian prisoners of war and the 17th Railway company (Colja, 1914, p. 152, in Črni Vrh pod Avstro-Ogrsko).

Idrija feldban branch

In the text under the above title, I will as feldban always refer to Idrija feldban. Most of the online publications, which mainly quote the short content about the feldban from each other, state that the Idrija feldban was built “later” (after the Črni Vrh branch), and that in 1917 it was extended to Straža and before the breakthrough, which many also call “miracle at Kobarid”, in preparation for the 12th offensive, up to Dolenja Trebuša.

The branch from Cestnik’s bend to Idrija was supposed to have been built between September 1 and 20, 1916. If the Črni Vrh branch, with a length of just under 30 kilometers all the way from Logatac to Zadlog, was built in a little more than three weeks, the much shorter Idrija one could certainly be built in 20 days. With the 20,000 prisoners of war that most online sources refer to, many things could be possible, including an extraordinary construction achievement due to the demanding terrain, which the Idrija feldban undoubtedly is.

But it’s not that simple. Fairly flat statements, especially those online, are incomplete or even misleading. Rome was not built in a day, but the feldban was indeed built in twenty, just not the one we know today. In a short period of twenty days, the first phase, the first course of the line was built. Later, in the second phase, the majority of the route was modified and adapted to motorized traction.

Also, some periodic reports of civil engineers or construction supervisors refer to the situation on a certain date, and they can also be exaggerated or inaccurate. In any case, more written and pictorial sources about the construction timeline may still lie in boxes in archives in Slovenia and Austria. What I found in archive boxes in Ljubljana and Idrija is mainly pictorial material (photographs), but much more time is needed for written sources. Even so, I was unlucky enough that on the day I dedicated to rummaging through the boxes, the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia in Ljubljana closed two hours earlier due to a holiday the following day. I only managed to find that there is indeed a lot of archival material, but only a fraction of everything can be related to feldban, perhaps only few needles in a haystack. In addition to useful information and hints, I also learned from the people I managed to make contact with while inquiring about feldban that there are still quite a few questions without solid answers.

The story of the entire feldban (both Črni Vrh and Idrija branches) takes place between August 15, 1916 and October 24, 1917. A year and two months. Then everything fell silent on the Soča front, the conflict continued on Tilment and Piave. However, some important events of the First World War took place during the construction period. The Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme took place on the Western Front, and on the Eastern Front the great Russian offensive of Brusilov, each with hundreds of thousands of casualties.

The feldban was also undergoing changes. In war, new technologies are implemented more quickly. Motor-driven wagons were introduced, as there became evident a shortage of horses and fodder for them. The existing wagons were equipped with Porsche engines, which he, as a constructor at Austro-Daimler, modified specifically for use on military narrow-gauge railways.

The fuel for motors on the feldbahn was not gasoline as we know it today. Benzene or benzol, a sweet-smelling aromatic compound, was toxic and carcinogenic.

The reconstruction of the tracks also came with the motor drive due to heavier loads and due to consideration of the maximum possible slope of 3-4% for motor traction. New parts of the routes were laid outside the already busy roads. Nothing happened all at once, the situation was constantly changing, and the plans were frequently being adjusted.

At the beginning, I had various second thoughts about understanding the feldban itself. Idrija seemed to me more like a dead end than a military logistics center. There was no cable car from Idrija that would supply the front. Even if the feldban was to be built entirely by the cheap labor force of many prisoners of war, due to the consumption of materials and tools, the army would not commit itself on such demanding construction projects just to supply the civilian population. So what was it that made such a challenging course worth constructing? Ivan Rudolf believes that coal was supplied along the line (among other things) to the Idrija mine power station, which supplied electricity to the cable cars in the wider area, and probably also to other public buildings and institutions in Idrija. At that time, Idrija was the second largest city in Carniola. The power plant was so important that the Italians bombed Idrija several times in August 1917 in air raids, but without success. Another reason would be the possibility of transporting the wounded for treatment in Idrija and transporting of military material from Idrija by carts and trucks to Dolenja Trebuša, from where a cable car was run to Čepovan to supply the units in Banjšice plateau, and across the Šentviška plateau to the Bohinj railway in Grahovo. Maybe by choosing the supply line through the Idrijca valley, they just used another access route to meet the ever-increasing needs at the front. If we take into account that they extended the track to Straža and planned to connect it to Dolenja Trebuša, the feldban takes on (additional) meaning, especially if the logistics strategists planned such a course from the beginning. The narrow-gauge railway was mentioned for the first time already in 1914, immediately after the start of the war and a year before construction began.

The French road, which branches off on a serpentine less than a kilometer from the tunnel on the Godovič-Črni Vrh road, got its name from its construction during the Illyrian Provinces, when Napoleon’s Grande Armée tried to sweep away the European crowned heads and their feudalism. Today, the well-maintained macadam road reaches the top of Ključe hill after about five kilometers, from where it descends in twelve serpentines to Podroteja at the confluence of Zala and Idrijca.

Despite the scanty data, it is known that the Idrija feldban was built in several phases. In the first phase, tracks were laid right along the French road. Serpentines towards Podroteja, however, were too sharp. Their radius was too small even for a narrow-gauge railway. Also, the 8% slope of this 3-kilometer long section additionally supported the decision to build a funicular from the top of Ključe hill to Divje jezero in the Idrijca valley (in the archives, the funicular is called Bremsberg Podrtija). The rails, close to the standard width (1450 mm: Žorž, Na obrobju pekla, eng. On the outskirts of hell), were laid down the slope into the valley, and the carrying platform of the wagon was fixed at a certain angle to maintain horizontal position.

From the top of Ključe hill to Divje jezero, there is about a 250-300 meter difference in height. The funicular had one track, and there were two platform cars on it. When one was at the top, the other was at the bottom. They were connected by a steel cable, the upper one pulling the lower one during the descent. They met in the middle, where there were two tracks and switches that directed the platforms to the right track.

The process of loading, hauling/lowering and unloading could take considerable time if done manually or with the help of a motor drive and pulleys mounted on a steel gantry rail/bar. For example, if 10 wagons arrived in a short time, the last one had to wait a long time for its turn to be loaded, unloaded, lowered or lifted. The researchers state that they designed the funicular in such a way that it was possible to drive an entire feldban wagon across to the carrier wagon. At the lower station near Divje jezero, the feldban wagon was to be re-rolled exactly on the railway track and continued to Idrija.

Any failure of the funicular would completely interrupt traffic on the feldban. Two plateaus have been preserved at the upper station, where barracks were built for storage and accommodation for the workers who operated the funicular. It is quite likely that the upper warehouse was used for the storage of waiting goods, so that the traffic to the upper station from Logatac and the lower one from Idrija was not disturbed.

All that remains of the cable car are stone embankments, cuts, plateaus and parts of barracks. How such a funicular railway looked like can be seen under the top of Sabotin, where parts of the upper station of the funicular railway, which was in use until the 6th Soča offensive, have been preserved and restored. But the Sabotin funicular is double-tracked.

In the second phase, the track was rebuilt all the way to Idrija. 3.5 kilometers from Cestnik’s bend, the track turned downwards to the right from French road, where builders took advantage of some flat terrain, before the track continued its journey over the precipitous walls of the Zala gorge. The relatively flat terrain was used for some bends and twists around the sinkholes, with which they gained more height difference without dangerously increasing the incline. Here are also the most well-preserved embankments. Continuing above the slopes in Zala, most of the route was cut into the walls of the gorge or retaining walls were built. The track came back to French road just above the last serpentine below the Ključe peak, where it was most likely crossed by a wooden overpass, which Božič also mentions in the introduction. It was not easy to stop the composition of heavy wagons on the rails, so with the overpass other traffic on the French road, which also ran continuously, was not hindered.

The overpass itself was probably turning left into another gorge named Strug, above Idrijca river, and the track continued along the steep slopes of Pevec towards Bela. At first, the route ran through a less steep wooded area, but then the terrain became increasingly steep and rocky, interspersed with torrential ravines and screes (loose stony debris on a slope). Just like above Zala, they had to overcome difficult terrain and in many places had to cut the track into the rock or build retaining walls, and put up bridges over ravines and scree. Since the builders had to be careful about the regular incline, they had to drill a 20-meter tunnel, and shortly after it, put the famous bridge (traverse passage) against the steep wall, whose almost cult photo is published in every serious publication, both online and in hard copy works.

After a good three kilometers, the builders came to a small slightly levelled ground above the road to Bela. Since they overcame sufficient height difference up to there, they were able to turn the course back towards Idrija. There was the so-called “veksl”, a turn of the line towards Idrija. By the time the current road from Bela to Podroteja is reached, over a kilometer before Wild lake, cuttings, retaining walls and a few short bridges were built again.

When I first heard about “veksl” (from german wechsel – turn(ing)), I imagined this “turning”, changing the direction, as it goes on the railway. In the steepness of the Idrijca gorge, I couldn’t think of anything else. So by using a switch, which could be used to change direction on a dead-end track. The train or a certain number of wagons would drive to the end of the straight track, then the switch would be moved and the wagons would descend on the track towards Idrija in the opposite direction of travel (that is, without turning). The braking systems were on both sides of each wagon, one or two brakemen on each side if necessary. The former horsemen, carters, (and including) brakemen, now operated gasoline engines instead of harnessed horses. Such a construction seemed simple and sensible to me. But the evidence of this can only be found under the large rocks that have rolled down the slope over more than 100 years onto the scree terrain and become overgrown with moss. Or in some dusty box of some archive. However, when I took a closer look at the location of the so-called “veksl”, I did not detect any indications in this direction. There probably won’t be much discussion about this option in the future either.

The “Umkehrschleife”, the turn, or the semi-circular viaduct was definitely there, because it is documented with a photo that was already published by Schaumann in his book (Walther Schaumann: Die Bahnem zwischen Ortler und Isonzo 1914-1918). Assuming that the date is correct and that it is the construction and not the reconstruction of the viaduct, the question again arises as to when the second phase of the feldbahn was actually built. The photo, which actually looks like a clipping from some newspaper, magazine or report, mentions a horse-drawn military railway (Pferdefeldbahn), and below it there is a reference to operational section 3 (Betriebssektion 3). There is probably nothing wrong with this, although the designation of the operational section refers to the Logatec-Godovič-Zadlog railway and not to Godovič-Idrija, which is marked with 3b. It is quite possible that the letters were added later, when the Zadlog-Poncala and Godovič-Idrija lines were completed, or they were simply omitted in the reports and the number 3 was generally used for the Črni Vrh and Idrija feldban. A date for which it is not clear whether attributed by the person who took the photo, someone else (journalist, officer from the military media center) or Schaumann himself, 07/10/1917, just over two weeks before the decisive 12th Soča offensive, in which the front broke through. It is also not possible to see from the photo if tracks have already been laid on the “switch” system under the viaduct and traffic was already running, and the viaduct was only an improvement. These facts suggest that the construction of the entire second phase of the feldban, including the extension from Idrija to Dolenja Trebuša, actually took place just before the breakthrough.

The viaduct stood on a wooden structure. The foundations, actually excavations for the foundations for the supporting wooden columns, and part of the wall, can still be seen today, and are also visible on the lidar image.

32. Feldbahn_Godovič-Idrija_-_K._u._k._Pferdefeldbahn_Nr._4,_Betriebssektion_N._3_-_Bau_einer_Umkehrschleife_nahe_beim_Idria-Ursprung,_7._Okt_1917 - PUBLIC DOMAIN

Construction of a wooden viaduct at the turn towards Idrija (Public domain)

This renovated line was built exclusively for motor traction, which would mean that along this part of the feldban the wagons were never pulled by horses. The use of horse-drawn carriages over the bridges and through the tunnel would only be possible by harnessing the horses one or more in a row rather than two in parallel, even if they were slimmer at the time. Besides, they would have to walk on the tracks, which would be awkward and something they always avoided. Many bridges would have to be lined wide with wooden or concrete sleepers to dare animals to venture across them.

Warehouses next to narrow-gauge railways

When the conflict turned into trench warfare shortly after it began, preparatory artillery barage was necessary for a successful assault or offensive. This means that the attacker intensively shells the enemy positions before the attack. The aim was not only to inflict the greatest possible losses of manpower and material, the gaps the artillery made in the rows of barbed wire through which the infantry attacked were important. If before the offensive at the beginning of the war the shelling lasted an hour or two, in the middle and towards the end of the war it became longer and longer. In the Battle of the Somme, the British first bombarded German positions for 7 days. The attacked soldiers were completely destroyed mentally from the constant thunder.

It is known that approximately every 7 kilometers along the feldban track there was a warehouse, mainly for ammunition. The precaution had several advantages. Not only that sabotage or an accident would do less damage because the ammunition was not concentrated in a large amount in one place, but also the supply of the front during offensives was faster and more reliable, because first, according to the necessity of use, the nearest warehouses were emptied and replenished during pauses.

In Logatec, where enormous amounts of military material were being transshipped around the railway station, it was not even a question of whether an accident could happen, but more of when it would happen. On October 1, 1917, shortly after 12 o’clock, there was a huge explosion and a fire that raged for several days before if was extinguished. 34 soldiers and prisoners of war died, more than 70 people were wounded. On the train, which was at the station at the time, some wagons were also on fire. The railroad workers uncoupled some wagons loaded with explosives and moved them along the track back to direction of Verd. This prevented an even bigger disaster.

There were large kitchens and a slaughterhouse in Godovič, from where food was shipped to the battlefield. Ammunition storage should also be there or nearby. They were certainly in Zadlog and Črni Vrh, it would also make sense at the upper end of the funicular on the Idrija feldban, in Idrija or its surroundings, and elsewhere. Rudolf does not exclude the possibility that the warehouse was also on, next to or between the turning point or the viaduct. Secluded and in a narrow gorge, it would be extremely safe with a minimal guard crew.

Onward to Straža and Trebuša

The continuation of construction from Idrija to Straža (Želin) on the turnoff to Cerkno and further to Dolenja Trebuša is without some answers. It would make sense for the railway to Idrija to be fully built and adapted to motor traction before the extension. The last section from Straža to Trebuša was supposed to be in use for only a week. According to Schaumann it was built between September 11 and October 18, 1917. The builders were hindered by bad weather, parts of the route or track were repeatedly washed away by landslides and torrents. At that time, the autumn rains were as they had always been until some time ago – with swollen rivers, torrential rains and occasional landslide.

Some doubt that the tracks even reached Trebuša, only that excavations were made to some extent, but the offensive overtook the builders. The course of the route is also not confirmed, although the prevailing claim is that it ran along the existing road, which is on the right bank of the Idrijca river. Anka Rudolf says that part of the route was discovered under the bend between the turnoffs to Cerkno and Otalež, which is certainly encouraging. Along the Idrijca valley, slopes that drop steeply into the river alternate on the left and right, with flat parts on the opposite banks. Until the facts are clarified, the opinions about which bank of the Idrijca the route went along and until where the tracks reached will remain just what they are – opinions based on guesswork. There is not even circumstantial evidence of this for now.

In this photo, there is an erroneous reference to the construction of this bridge for the narrow-gauge railway over Ljubevščica or Zala (Bau einer Feldbahnbrücke bei der Ortschaft Idria – wohl über die Ljubevščica oder Zala), namely the bridge is built over Idrijca at the current Kolektor factory. The Prejnuta neighborhood is now in the background. (Public domain)

Pirh’s slope, which rises from Straža upwards in the direction of Idrija, ends with a left bend that goes through a cut made by the Italians during the occupation. Ivan Pirih lives in the 170-year-old house above the bend, which used to be the Austro-Hungarian school. The slope is also named after the homestead. A little further from the bend, lower down to the right towards Idrijca, you can see part of the feldban route mentioned by Anka Rudolf. Pirih says that until today’s branch to Otalež, the feldban from Idrija came along the road, but immediately after crossing the bridge over the gorge, it turned left down, because the road ahead had too much of a slope. At that time, it passed over Pirih’s house, the section where the current road is, was not yet there. At today’s junction to Otalež, the main road goes over the embankment. Before the reconstruction, the previous road ran about 100 meters deeper in the gorge. There was a bridge with three arches, which was blown up by partisans during the retreat of the German army from Italy in 1943.

The route can be seen approximately in length of 100 meters. It is still in use by the owner of the land which ensures that it is also maintained. Further on it got lost, and it was buried under Pirh’s slope when the route of the new road was constructed. Ivan Pirih is almost certain that the feldban reached the meadow beside the river in Straža, but the tracks did not go further towards Trebuša. The wide flat meadow was sufficient for a few tracks and barracks where the cargo could be transshipped. Trucks that used to drive from Idrija to Trebuša now had to cover only half that distance. At the terminus in Straža they didn’t get electricity from Idrija, but it was produced by a motor generator. Pirih’s ancestor in his teenage years, Filip Pirih, went to see the generator to find out if something similar could be done at home, but he was electrocuted during the visit. The unfortunate event was published in the newspaper Slovenec (I’m still waiting for the issue nr. or date, but I don’t think we should expect any surprises – it is probably September-October 1917). When they went to work in the field or cultivate a few small gardens down towards Idrijca, the Pirihs always said that they were going to work down “on the feldban”. If the oral tradition of Pirih’s ancestors is true, then this part of the feldbahn, the route of which is visible below his homestead, is not only the first, but will also remain the only one visible on the extension of the route from Idrija to Trebuša.

Standard gauge railway

I remember how the professors always explained the principles of economics to us with the dilemma of how much the national economy should direct its limited resources to the production of cannons and butter. When they told the general staff in Vienna that they only had one more wagon of butter and asked which front they should send it to, it was clear to everyone that it would only go down and that the end was near.

The conflict quickly became a war of attrition, a war of raw materials and factories. Due to the growing need for material on the front, which was primarily represented by cannon ammunition due to its weight, the Austro-Hungarian army began to plan the construction of a normal-gauge (standard) railway to Črni Vrh, which would even be connected to Ajdovščina via Col. They also started construction, as evidenced by the embankment from the main railway station in Logatec, the tunnel under Naklo, the tunnel near Kalce filled in on one side, and numerous cuttings on the completely newly planned route to Godovič.

Part of the new route was the recently renovated tunnel under Naklo in Logatec. Despite archival photographs showing two narrow-gauge railway tracks at the exit of the tunnel, the tunnel was intended for standard-gauge railways. The tracks of the narrow-gauge railway were used for the delivery of construction material to the construction sites of the new route and the removal of excavated material. During the construction of the tunnel, they were annoyed by the water that lingered in the tunnel. They solved the problem by channeling the water into a siphon they discovered inside. During construction, they also came across a coal seam. It was used to drive a steam locomotive, and the quantities were enough to heat the entire Logatec with coal the following winter.

An apple tree grew above the tunnel exit. Ripe fruits were thrown down on the construction site by the locals to the malnourished Russian prisoners of war who were working on the excavations. In front of the entrance to the tunnel now stands a replica of a Czech-made locomotive called “mašinka”, which was used during construction. The exact maps, for which I thank the Historical Archives of Slovenia, Idrija unit, are (too) large for publication, but the photo of part of the route will still shed light on the accuracy of the planning.

A tunnel was drilled behind Godovič, through which the Godovič-Črni Vrh road passes today. A few hundred meters further, there is another one, 300 meters long, which remained unfinished. Work, not only on the excavation of the tunnel, but on the entire route, was immediately stopped after the breakthrough. This is why the unfinished tunnel is an excellent example of the construction method of that time. It is necessary to enter from the south side, where you can see the upper tunnel, which was intended for the construction of the tunnel from top to bottom, and below is a smaller tunnel, intended for the take away of excavated material. Towards the end of the tunnel, the walls are already covered with concrete. On the other side of the tunnel is a bunker that was built by the Italians after the war as part of the Vallo Alpino (Alpine Wall) defense line.

Prisoners of war

Many prisoners of war captured by Austria-Hungary and Germany on the eastern front were transported to the Soča battlefields. They were used as labour force wherever possible. Artisans worked as blacksmiths, cooks, carpenters, they established work departments (companies) for the construction of roads, mule trails, and railways, and as labor force they were assigned to individual farms, which contributed food and fodder for the needs of the army.

Most of the prisoners of war were Russians. They were probably transported so far that they would not think of escaping due to the long journey to Russia. For them, it was hundreds of kilometers to the front in the east through enemy territory, full of soldiers, gendarmes, checkpoints, and at the same time, the escapee had to steal or beg for food and water along the way, spend the night in ravines or under haystacks, where he could be reported immediately if spotted. If he opened his eyes in the morning and saw above him a bayonet on the end of a gendarme’s rifle, he could be happy if he was not without due process condemned and shot the same day. If anyone managed to get into Russian territory, he could be accused of high treason or espionage and shot, or at best shoved a rifle into his hand and driven back to fight where he was first captured. Not an attractive prospects.

The number of Italian prisoners on Soča front began to rise as death spread among the soldiers at the front. It is likely that many POWs would not go into battle again, even if they were released. They realized that they had a better chance of seeing the end of the war if they survived the mistreatment of the evil guards, the cold, hunger and bloody dysentery, which killed many before they arrived at the hospital. Fleas, lice, rats and poor hygiene conditions were the least of their worries.

The prisoners who built the feldban were housed in barracks along the route. The larger camp was in Kalce, where there is now a monument. Oral sources also state over 20,000 men, but this number, according to experts, refers to the wider area of the front. There were much fewer of them in Logatec and surroundings. 28 officers, over 2,300 soldiers and more than 2,000 horses were assigned to the construction of the entire feldban (Žorž: Na obrobju pekla – On the edge of hell). During the various construction phases, several thousand soldiers and prisoners of war could be exchanged in 14 months, but by no means 20,000.

The prisoners were treated badly. The soldiers who were in charge of controlling them beat them with rifle hooves or otherwise mistreated them. Even the guard, who was not evil, became so so that he would not be sent to the front. News reached the Russian ears that they were treating their prisoners of war badly, so the Russians also started terrorizing the Austro-Hungarian POWs.

Those who were assigned to work on farms got away with least suffering. The headship approved the hiring of at least 10 captives, so the farms collected their labor needs and jointly applied for the allocation of a tenth of the captives, who were then distributed among applicant farms themselves. They had to provide them with food and living quarters and of course make sure that no one escaped. The food was probably better among the farmers, and although it was strictly forbidden to give alcohol to the prisoners, in many places the good workers were treated to occasional shot of brandy.

People and animals at war

The inhabitants of Idrija received food cards during the war, for which they did not receive an equivalent in goods. What had already entered the valley was insignificant and quickly distributed among those who were closest. It was not a shortage, but a real hunger (Božič: PV 12/1968). The children were malnourished, wearing clothes made from military blankets. They patched up the holes in their clothes with the torn military uniforms they could get their hands on. After the breakthrough of the front, everyone rushed to collect textiles in the full Italian military warehouses that remained behind fleeing army. The boots were for the adults, for the children the clogs from a few pieces of wood were made. They walked barefoot in the summer. Clothing and footwear were in the west, but for food they had to go east, towards Ljubljana and Poljanska walley. The urban population of Idrija flowed in both directions. The west gave industrial goods, the east provided food.

“Such wandering, searching, begging and sometimes also exchanging goods, pilgrimage, walking and carrying goods on one’s own shoulders, we called brnjav, as well as contraband.” (Božič: PV 12/1968). A livelihood related to smuggling was banned. The gendarmes at the checkpoints would confiscate all the food from the “smugglers”, they had to give them a wide berth through the forests.

Locals dragged sacks of flour and grain from the circular cable car from Zadlog over Mala Gora, where it came close to the ground, until the army set up guard posts in the area.

Forgotten by their rulers, the civilian population had nothing to eat, while many soldiers bled to death during the shelling and charges or the way to the hospitals. Their names are in military cemeteries, if only a rectangular piece of rusted metal sheet does not say “Unbekannt” – unknown, and on long lists in monumental ossuaries, which were mostly erected by the victors after the war. The soldiers who returned home after the war brought with them all the misery of it. Few forgot the war and lived on. Some lost their eyesight or hearing due to shells’ detonations, some lost a limb, and still others returned blank stared and numb. When they died, they were buried in the ground along with the healed gunshot wounds, traumas, nightmares and sad memories.

In the war, not only people suffered, but also animals. Film performances only show the romantic attachments of individual soldiers or the entire company to some animal that accidentally strayed or was brought to the front area and became the mascot of the unit. But many animals in the service of man met a cruel fate. They cannot write diaries and memoirs, so I will summarize a part of their ordeal below.

The soldier brought a canary back to the front from vacation. For company, encouragement, a few moments of oblivion. By chirping, he helped his comrades drive away thoughts of possible death. One night he started chirping madly and flapping his wings. He woke up a few soldiers who were sleeping despite the occasional shell explosions, then someone looked at the canary and shouted “Gas!”. With 15 times better detection than humans, canaries were the main “alarm” for identifying war gases. They were able to save many soldiers from an invisible death, but there were no gas masks for the canaries, the gas killed them. Who knows how many other birds, whose migration routes were cut off by the long front line, were shot, mistaking them for enemy carrier pigeons or simply for the pot.

Some of the more bizarre uses of animals in war include the use of parrots for early detection of enemy aircraft and seagulls for submarine detection. The results of these experiments were poor. A larger type of fireflies was successfully used for reading maps and courier mail at night.

Countries at war used dogs for various tasks – medical, courier, guard. Of the 13,000 French rescue dogs that saved lives of 8,000 French soldiers during the war, 3,000 were killed on the battlefield. The Germans had 40,000 dogs, they were supposed to save 20,000 wounded soldiers. Probably a similar proportion were killed, i.e. around 10,000. Dogs were also used to pull smaller carts.

Already at the beginning of the war, cavalry attacks proved to be a mistake. The use of rapid-fire weapons – machine guns – caused real massacres among horsemen, and even more so among horses, which were a bigger target. When the confflict turned in trench warfare, the machine guns mowed down the infantry, the horses were sent to the rear, and the tanks came later.

Most animals were pack animals. According to some data, 16 million mules, horses, camels, donkeys and oxen were involved in the war. Half of them died before the war ended. Despite the mandatory supply of fodder for the animals, just like the civilian population and the army, the horses on the feldban began to starve. As they began to die, the rest had to work harder. Malnourished, emaciated or injured horses were slaughtered or shot, cut up and cooked. Unfortunately, things did not get any better for them even after the war. Many pack animals were killed and eaten by the impoverished population and soldiers. Many of the horses that were intended to be sold to new owners mostly died in the long wait for the auctions.

When he was not allowed to shoot in order to end the suffering of the shot and scattered horses, which were wildly squealing and dying in pools of their own blood in no man’s land, because he would have given away the position of his unit by firing his rifle, Remarque’s literary character, the farmer Detering, said that “the use of horses in war is the lowest vileness”. He was right, nothing good happened to them on the outskirts of hell.

There is no romance in war. Scholars of military conflict, even if only analytically, treat war as a science, almost an art. They recognize innovative strategists and decisive commanders. Soldiers are a fighting force, a weapon of war, a tool for achieving political goals. Here and there they are awarded a medal, otherwise they are just counted. In thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions. Both civilians and animals were collateral damage at the time. A bit more empathy towards animals, which had to participate and die in war in the service of men, appears only recently. The British could also decide to dedicate that monument in Hyde Park, dedicated to animals who served and died in many wars, not only to “theirs”, but also to “others”. All! Mainly because animals don’t have political convictions. They only expect food and safety from the man they serve. They did not receive any of this in the Great War.

Feldban after the breakthrough and the end of the war

It is believed that, after the breakthrough, the army quickly dismantled larger sections and more accessible parts of the feldban. If the tracks were not transported to the new front on the Piave, they were processed in one way or another in the iron industry. After the war, if there was anything left of the tracks, the Italians picked them up. Between the breakthrough and the end of the war, even the locals were not left empty-handed. Now that feldban is becoming popular, many people will probably boast that their grandfather or great-grandfather built a piece of rail into the wall or ceiling of their barn. Maybe the institution that has or will take responsibility for the restoration and maintenance of the feldban will find a piece or two of original rails and return them to the place where they were placed more than 100 years ago, and put at least a replica of the feldban wagon on it.

The Idrija mine and the first railway

It may be worth noting here that the feldban was not the first railway that was in Idrija. Before the war, wood was needed for the support beams in the mine shafts and for the furnaces in the mercury smelter. Continuous logging made it more and more distant. That’s when the sluices, locks for rafting wood, were created. They also introduced the “lauf”, course, “railway” with wooden rails made of beech beams. Wooden wagons on cast iron wheels were pushed or pulled along them. The wagon carried up to 1 cbm of wood, from the logging sites to the nearby sawmills. Later, the edges of the beams were also reinforced with cast iron profiles. The Idrija lauf was the first railway in the world dedicated to harvesting wood. (Tadej Brate, Gozdne železnice na Slovenskem, eng. Forest Railways in Slovenia: ČZP Kmečki glas. Ljubljana, 1994)


Feldban wagons were also called hunti (pl. of hunt). The word may come from the German Hund (dog). There are quite a few dog-related phrases in German mining logistics terminology, which is not surprising for Germans, who write noun phrases from several words together. They know Hundgestänge – wooden (dog) tracks, Hundsläufer – dog walker (miner who hauled away mined ore) or Hundestößer (person who kicks dogs)… The origin of the word is not exactly clear, from the more credible it seems that the name comes from wagons, whose wheels barked or whined like a dog while cornering. I dare to think that in a wagon, which was surrounded by wooden sides and it was no bigger than a kennel, may lie the answer. Someone please correct me.

Today's feldban

The two off-road parts of the feldbahn, the upper with three and the lower with 4-5 kilometers of well-preserved route with only a few interruptions, are excellent displays of engineering ingenuity during the war and now also represent part of the cultural heritage of these places. Although the entire feldban has already been mentioned many times in various professional articles and books, its story is just beginning in our time. The route is otherwise less clearly marked and small or faded markings are not difficult to miss. I have walked the lower and upper parts several times, and it seems incredible to me how such a prominent monument of the past is so unknown, or as Colja puts it, “that this technical pearl, built in 20 days, is in every way a completely untapped tourist potential”. Here, of course, he is referring to the second phase of the feldbahn, since there is practically nothing to see from the first, built in 20 days.

Twice, however, I encountered hikers who asked where “that feldban” was going. Just like me when I first heard about it and didn’t have a very good idea how to find it. Not long ago, an older hiker looked at me a little in disbelief when I explained to him in detail, as if I knew everything, what to watch out for, after how many meters to turn up or down, what to help him orient himself. I missed the turns twice, so I didn’t want the gentleman to get lost somewhere along the way. I don’t know everything about the Idrija feldbahn, but I won’t miss the route again.

The military narrow-gauge or field railway, Feldbahn in german, became and remained feldban among the locals. The unpronounceable “German” h is left out, and the pronunciation of the consequtive consonants d and b results in assimilation, so I don’t think the use of the word feltban is in place. Furthermore, even if nouns are capitalized in german, the related word feldban should not be capitalized, and the linguists will probably agree.

In 2012, the route was covered by trees due to sleet. It is now cleared and passable, but in a few places there are newly fallen trees. On the more difficult parts across the ravines, wedges are driven in and protective steel cables are installed. Under the famous bridge before the tunnel, if you go up the route, there are steel steps embedded in the wall. Due to the aforementioned dangerous parts, the route is still unsuitable for small children. For the rest, except in winter, if there is snow and ice on the track, the route is admissible for all seasons. At the beginning of summer, the traveler is treated to raspberries that grow along the path on both parts of the route.

When I set out on my way from top to bottom, the counter in the car showed me exactly 3.5 kilometers from the serpentine where the main road Godovič – Črni Vrh turns onto French road, to the turnoff on the right to the beginning of the upper part of the feldban. Last time there was a beech tree on which an enthusiast had drawn a sign similar to a railroad track with white paint. Parking is possible about 100 m further, but you may park your vehicle anywhere along the road as long as you leave enough space for logging truck to pass. You may not be able to see the route right away, as it is quite dug up there due to timber harvesting. Look a little lower and don’t give up if that beech is already converted into furniture. The route is there!

Back on French road, it comes from the right side about 100 meters before the last serpentine below the Ključe peak. If you are looking for entry to the feldban on this side, it was not marked on my last visit. You may accidentally overlook the narrow path at the beginning. The path to the upper part of the feldban is therefore approximately 100 m to the left from the last serpentine. The turnoff to the right some 20-30 m from the serpentine, where you access the lower part of the feldban, initially leads along a fairly wide forest road that you cannot miss. Even if you miss the square sign with the faint feldban logo nailed to some tree, you will still see the ramp from the road. Continue along this forest path and you will arrive at the feldban route, which has only been changed by nature over 100 years. When you pass the tunnel and under the rock where the bridge used to be, after a while you will reach slightly more levelled ground where the viaduct was. If you feel that the route has run out, turn straight down in oposite direction and after about 80 m you will reach a part of the route that already leads towards Idrija.

If you go from the bottom up, from the direction of Podroteja there is a left turn onto the feldban a good kilometer from Divje jezero (Wild lake) on the road to Bela, only a few 10 m from the small parking lot on the right side of the road. Along the edge of the asphalt, the feldban logo is drawn every few hundred meters on the right, the last one at the parking lot, and then before the track on the left.

The Idrija feldban has come under the auspices of Geopark Idrija, so we can rightly expect it to be arranged properly. Such an interesting, technically demanding and perfectly preserved work from wartime deserves it. With the cooperation of other institutions, the restored route of such a unique work of human hands will surely be designed in such a way that it will not only attract tourists, but also remind of the suffering of all participants related to it. We must all be aware that the feldban would never have been created as it is if the war had not brought it.

I have arranged the photos below in such a way that they follow each other from the beginning of the upper part of the feldban at the turnoff from French road to the end at the descent to the Bela – Idrija road before Divje jezero (Wild lake). They were recorded at different times, so they may not follow each other in exact order.

On lidar images, the route looks like this:

Sources of data, texts and photographs

As already mentioned, when looking for information about feldban, I needed some advice, explanation, opinion or at least a recommendation on who to contact. People and institutions whose help I received:

  • Ivan Rudolf (na Črnem Vrhu ima urejen muzej, v katerem hrani med drugim dva podstavna vozička feldbana in zelo redek Porschejev motor, ki jih je poganjal, poleg ogleda muzeja se lahko z njim dogovorite, da vas popelje po delu feldbana, ki bi vas utegnil zanimati): https://vojnimuzejcrnivrh.wordpress.com/
  • Anka Rudolf, author of several articles on the portal of the Gore-Ljudje (Mountains-People) association (e.g. https://www.gore-ljudje.si/Tags/prva-svetovna-vojna-je-idriji-prinesla-zeleznico)
  • Arhiv Republike Slovenije – Archives of the Republic of Slovenia
  • Zgodovinski arhiv Ljubljana, enota Idrija
  • Nadškofijski arhiv Ljubljana
  • Aleš Lajovic (Nova proga, Slovenian Railways magazine, July-August 2010, article titled Idrijska železnica – mit ali resničnost? (Idrija railway – myth or reality?)
  • Marija Terpin Mlinar (Mestni muzej Idrija) – Idrija Municipal Museum
  • Miha Mihelič (Zavod za varstvo kulturne dediščine Slovenije) – The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia
  • Fundacija Poti miru v Posočju, center za obiskovalce, Kobarid – The Walk of Peace Visitor Center, Kobarid
  • Geopark Idrija
  • Ivan Pirih

Used literature:

Bajec Rupnik, U. Rudolf, I. (2014). Črni Vrh pod Avstro-Ogrsko. Črni Vrh: Samozaložba – Črni Vrh under Austro-Hungary, self-published

Koncilija, Ž. (2008). The Unsung Heroes of the Great War: Degree dissertation. Ljubljana: Fakulteta za družbene vede – Faculty of Social Sciences

Na obrobju pekla: Idrijsko in Cerkljansko 1914–1919: [katalog razstave]. – On the Edge of Hell: Idrija and Cerkno regions 1914-1919 Idrija: Mestni muzej, 2018 – Idrija Municipal Museum, 2018

Božič L. (1968). Moja prva tura, Planinski vestnik, 12, 1968, str. – My First Tour 556-563

Vojni ujetniki carske Rusije v prvi svetovni vojni na slovenskem ozemlju. Monografije CPA 7. Izdajatelj: Zavod za varstvo kulturne dediščine Slovenije Poljanska cesta 40, SI-1000 Ljubljana – Prisoners of war of Tsarist Russia in the First World War on Slovenian territory. Monographs CPA 7. Publisher: Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Poljanska cesta 40, SI-1000 Ljubljana http://www.zvkds.si, Park vojaške zgodovine Pivka Kolodvorska cesta 51, SI-6257 Pivka https://www.parkvojaskezgodovine.si/

Schaumann, W. (1991). Die Bahnen zwischen Ortler und Isonzo 1914-1918. Bohmann Druck und Verlag – The railways between Ortler and Isonzo 1914-1918

Brate, T. (1994). Gozdne železnice na Slovenskem. – Forest railways in Slovenia. Ljubljana: ČZP Kmečki glas. – Forest railways in Slovenia.

V zaledju soške fronte / [avtorji kataloga Elizabeta Eržen Podlipnik … [et al.] : urednica kataloga Judita Šega : prevodi povzetkov Estera Deželak … [et al.] : fotografije Pokrajinski arhiv Koper … [et al.] : izdelava zemljevida Grega Žorž]. – In the hinterland of the Soča Front – Koper : Pokrajinski arhiv : v Novi Gorici : Pokrajinski arhiv : Ljubljana : Zgodovinski arhiv : Jesenice : Gornjesavski muzej : [Tolmin] : Tolminski muzej, 2015 – In the hinterland of the Soča Front

Vodnik po arhivskem gradivu 1. svetovne vojne. (2017). Ljubljana: Arhiv Republike Slovenije