Udrius Armalis, 2011 02 21

Weisswaser Muskau railway. It is guessed that one of the locomotives is from Lithuania

Maldegem, Belgium

Maldegem, Belgium

Transportation of the wagon of the World War I

If the old trolley bus would look in this way, it would be much more valuable

The way to Aleksotas Hill

Railway and Aleksotas Airfield

Two trolleys – manual and mechanical

The trip of the narrow railway locomotive Rubikiai – Panevėžys, 2009

In brief: Museums of railway and technical heritage are very popular in West Europe as they attract visitors by old-time equipment and technology as well as the possibility to smell real steam and smoke and to try out the equipment used by our grandparents. Could Kaunas become a centre for admires of technique and receive income from this field?

After the decision was accepted to build the railway St.Petersburg – Warsaw with a branch to Eitkūnai in 1851, railway reached Kaunas in 1861. The first railway tunnel, station and the depot was built. After it was decided to construct a fortress in Kaunas, the railway network was enlarged: two military stations were built, and the narrow military railway was constructed. The first horse-drawn tram pulled started commuting in Kaunas. Later, during the World War I, Germans established the Winter Port, Airport in Aleksotas with a branch of railway heading to it. In the years of Independent Lithuania, the narrow railway was used for transportation of passengers in Kaunas, two funiculars were constructed, Kaunas became the railway centre of Lithuania with  the Central and Narrow Railway Workshop operating here. Many railway objects suffered from the World War II. Despite this, admirers of technique have some things to see in Kaunas.

According to the presently applied practice, railway museums are managed by private persons and from state funds. Clubs of railway fans are popular in western countries who manage railway museums and museum railway lines. Only the organisers of such activities receive salaries, while some 20-30 other people are volunteer workers. The closest clubs of this type are in Estonia – Lavasare Railway Museum and Avinurme Narrow Railway Equipment Collection formed by private persons. Such clubs also exist in Germany, England, Poland.

Differently from clubs, the state can create special railway equipment museums as it can invest more. An example could be the Berlin Technical Museum – an interactive museum established in the former railway depot, where a man may spend some two days until he/she gets acquainted with all exhibits. The closest state-supported railway equipment museums are in Riga, Hapsalu (Estonia), Kaliningrad (Russia) and Brest (Belarus).

Thus, Lithuanians have some places to gather experience from. Railway and technical heritage could be popularised in various methods, including untraditional spaces.

A tourist could start his trip from Žaliakalnis funicular, continue it by an old trolleybus, take a train in Kaunas railway station, which would take an unexpected direction – to Aleksotas Hill and Aleksotas Airfield. Here an aircraft could take a passenger and show Kaunas from bird's flight. After the flight the tourist could take an old bus to Kaunas forts and see Kaunas catacombs. The author has already organised such a trip several years ago.

Such a trip could be more attractive if the museum of war equipment would be established in Kaunas and if attention would be drawn to the fact that Lithuania is the only European country which does not have its railway equipment museum.

At the moment only private persons make efforts to preserve technical heritage: they create car collections, they purchase railway equipment from scrap metal and try to restore it. The public institution Narrow Railway Club is concerned with the railway equipment heritage preservation in Lithuania: it has bought railway equipment of the WWI and WWII and plans to restore it. The members of this club found the pre-war Lithuanian locomobile produced in MAN factory in 1938, which is presently located in Belgium.

Thus, the author wishes to everybody writing articles about technical parks to read less and to engage in practical work of technical heritage protection and a serious study of Lithuanian railway history.

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