A student running on steam
After our “summer break” at the Minett UNESCO Biosphere Youth Forum, we are back on the Minett Trail this month, stopping off at one of the eleven Kabaisercher. At the end of the meteorological summer and about a month before the end of the 2023 tourist season, we visit Minett Park Fond-de-Gras. It is home to one of the main tourist attractions in our region and to two associations, Train1900 and Minièresbunn Doihl, which will make the heart of any railway enthusiast beat faster.
Old locomotives and the passion of a young man from Dudelange for the preservation of historic trains are the theme of the month of August.
Our guest: Charel Kugeler
Our guest is a student at the Lycée Nic Biever in Dudelange and has been a passionate member of the Train1900 team for several years. He was introduced to steam engines by a friend who took him to the Fond-de-Gras to see them in action.
© Minett UNESCO Biosphere / IK-CNCI / MUAR
Although he had little contact with hydraulics, steam boilers and coal, the old locomotives sparked his passion. Today, Charel is a full-time Train1900 volunteer and spends most of his weekends in the narrow valley between Rodange and Niederkorn. In this episode of the Minett Mash-Up, Charel Kugeler talks about his personal commitment, how his classmates see him, the responsibilities of being an engine driver or conductor on Train1900, and the events that will be taking place at the Fond-de-Gras until the end of the season.
Our Minett location of the month: Fond-de-Gras
The municipality of Pétange
With over 20,000 inhabitants, the municipality of Pétange, comprising the villages of Pétange, Lamadelaine and Rodange, is the fifth largest municipality in Luxembourg, just behind the city of Dudelange.
Situated at the border triangle with Belgium and France, Pétange was and is a very industrial municipality. The steelworks in Rodange recently celebrated its 150th anniversary and is famous for producing high quality rails that are laid all over Europe. Pétange is also closely linked to the history of the railway in Luxembourg. It was the headquarters of the Prince Henry Railway before it became part of today’s CFL after the Second World War. To this day, the ASBL Train1900, with its historic locomotives and carriages, operates a section of the old Prince Henry Railway network, from Pétange to Fond-de-Gras.
Fond-de-Gras itself, located on the border between the municipalities of Differdange and Pétange, was one of the most important sites for iron ore mining in the Minett and today, as Minett Park, is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the southwest of Luxembourg.
Kabaischen of the month: Wagon-Gîte
In Fond-de-Gras, in the heart of one of the Minett’s most important nature reserves, you will find the Wagon Gîte, the Kabaischen of the commune of Pétange. It is an old railway carriage that has been transformed into a luxurious hostel after many years of neglect on a side track of the main railway station of Luxembourg City.
In addition to a living room with a wood-burning stove, the Fond-de-Gras Kabaischen has a fully equipped kitchen, two toilets and three dormitories with bunk beds for a total of 6 guests. The highlight of this gîte is the sauna, the perfect place to relax after a strenuous hike on the Minett Trail.
On 23 and 24 September, the annual steampunk festival “Anno1900” takes place in Fond-de-Gras. In which year was the first steampunk festival held here?
How many stations or stops are there (still) on the CFL network in Luxembourg?
Links to the topics we talked about in this episode:
- Train1900: Homepage of the club with all details about the history of the club, their material and their events.
- Albert Wolter: Honorary president of Train1900
- Railbus operated by Train1900: Article about the arrival of this locomotive at Fond-de-Gras.
- Track of the Train1900: Detailed description of the route of the Train 1900.
- Minièresbunn Doihl: Association that runs old mine trains from Fond-de-Gras through an old mine to Lasauvage and on to Saulnes (F).
- Kabaischen Fond-de-Gras: Concept of the hostel, photos and a link to book the “Wagon-Gîte”.
- Minett Park Fond-de-Gras: Industrial heritage site dedicated to the mining and steel past of the Minett.
- Giele Botter: Nature reserve between Pétange and Niederkorn, one of the core zones of the Minett UNESCO Biosphere.
- Belval: district on the territory of the communes of Esch-Alzette and Sanem, where an industrial wasteland has been transformed into a new place for living and working.
- Vëlodukt: The longest cycle bridge in Europe, linking Belval to the centre of Esch-Alzette.
- Explanation: The orgin of the name of the Fonds-de-Gras (pages 9-12).
- Société des chemins de fer Prince Henri: Railway company that operated the Fond-de-Gras lines and was incorporated into the CFL in 1946.
- Anno1900: Steampunk Festival in Fond-de-Gras
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