The Covasna Inclined Plane – An Ingenious Pulley System Forgotten by Ignorance

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Covasna is a small town in the middle of Romania, surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. Back in the day, in around 1890, the town was part of Transylvania, close to the border with the Romanian Principality. It was an important center for forestry and timber production. At the end of the 19th century a system of railways was built, connecting Covasna and its timber with the rest of the country.

Within this network of railways, an ingenious pulley system was created, which could bring a full cart of timber down a hill, all the while pulling an empty one up. Being perfectly calibrated, so when both carts met somewhere at the middle of the hill, the rail split in two, allowing the carts to pass each other.

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The entire operation was done without using any power or electricity of any kind. The system was so simple and elegant, yet so ingenious, being the only one of its kind. Today, something similar can only be found in just a couple of other places around the world. Being so elementary in its design, it required little to no maintenance.

However, back in 1995 and as if out of nowhere, a violent storm hit the town and surrounding mountains, bringing down much of the forest as well as the timber industry with it. Moreover, a forest fire hit not to long after, destroying even the system itself. While it wasn’t a big investment to rebuilt, the system and the railway remained in disrepair.

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Given the fact that the Covasna is also a touristic town, with many mineral springs and health resorts, the Inclined Plane could be a great attraction for the visitors, bringing in a lot of capital to the region, especially if it doesn’t use any energy to operate. Despite all of this, nothing has been done as of yet. The bridge connecting the hill to the rest of the network is gone with only the rail-lines dangling there like two rusty ropes and the Inclined Plane system itself is almost entirely covered by vegetation.

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The “bridge” connecting the Inclined Plane with the rest of the railway system
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The top control house being almost entirely covered by vegetation
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The Inclined Plane rail is almost invisible now

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