History

The local interest line runs between Cernay and Sentheim and was built and operated by the « Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l’EST » (East Railways compagny) in 1868-69.  With a total length of 1365 km this standard gauge track rapidly grew and served the Doller Valley. After the war of 1870 the line was in German territory and the track was extended up to Sewen by the German Reich (Elsass Lothringen company) in two phases : a first section up to Masevaux in 1884 and then up to Sewen in 1901. The line is then 27,5 km long and brings the passengers at the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, a starting point for hiking towards Ballon d’Alsace and the Alfeld and Sewen lakes.

 

During WWI the station of Burnhaupt is right on the frontline between the French and the Germans. The fights are violent and the stations of Aspach and Burnhaupt are destroyed. Sentheim is bombed as well.

 

train-anciens

  The locomotive "130 tender n°7160" of the Alsace Lorraine railway company in the station of Masevaux. This locomotive from 1906 built by SACM was "prisoner"of the Burnhaupt-Sewen section during WWI  (Mattauer collection)

 

After the war is over, the reconstruction starts without delay under the administration of the new railway company « Alsace Lorraine » (AL). The stone bridge that crosses the Doller River was bombed in 1914 and replaced by a metallic bridge in 1919. The stations of Sentheim will be reconstructed in the same fashion as before the war, while the stations of Aspach le Haut and Burnhaupt le Haut will be rebuilt in 1923 according to the new architectural fashion.

 

The line resumes its activity to the fullest until 1938, when the newly formed SNCF (French National Railway Company) discards the line, judging it was not profitable enough. In 1940 the bridges of the line are sabotaged. Traffic starts again in 1945 but is soon interrupted again as the bridge that crosses the Doller River is swept away by a swelling of the river.  The military engineers replace the bridge in 1951 by a metallic bridge (type Henry 1916) with sixteen spans (it is the only structure of this type still in place in France). However the passenger traffic which had been interrupted in 1947 only takes up again in 1957. The passenger traffic will definitively stop in 1967 and the line is closed in 1973 in order to let the road free for the automotive traffic in the village of Lauw.

 

The volunteer association then named « Chemin de Fer Touristique de la Vallée de la Doller » (CFTVD) runs its first train on the line between Cernay and Sentheim on June 20th 1976, with the steam locomotive Meuse # 51. Being one of the first touristic train created in the late 1960’s early 70’s, the line and the buildings have retained their authenticity, and give an true to life picture of what a secondary railway line was alike from the beginning of the XX century to the 1960’s and is today recognized of interest as a movie set.

 

The volunteers of the TTDA association have developed in the station of Burnhaupt a repair center of a great interest as far as technique and heritage are concerned. The crafts and know-how that are detained by the volunteers of the association are unique and keep growing richer by facing new challenges. The volunteers do almost the complete maintenance of the locomotives on their own from the boiler to the axles. The railway leads to about anything, from mechanics, to joinery, electricity, railway works, or printing. Anyone can find a way to express its talents. The work schedules are very busy and important restoration work on the material or the buildings take place every winter.