Narrow-gauged Forest Railway
Tourist Narrow Gauge Railway - a network of narrow-gauge railways built by Germans exploiting the forest during the First World War. They were used until the end of the 80s of the twentieth century to export wood from the Bialowieża Forest, and now constitute one of the most interesting attractions of the region - the original form of getting to know nature. The trip by train allows you to admire the surrounding nature and unique colors of the Bialowieza Forest.
History of the Narrow Gauge Railway in the Bialowieza Forest
In the years 1915-1918, the Białowieża Forest remained under the military management of Germany. In order to process the harvested timber, sawmills, a wood wool factory, a carpentry shop and a dry wood distillation plant were built. Wood was no longer sufficient for the timber to be removed from the forest, and in 1916 a forest railway was started. Russian prisoners, French prisoners and local people were involved in the work.
In the years 1924-1929 forest Narrow Gauge Railway remained under the management of the English company "The Century European Timber Corporation", which had the right to operate the Forest.The intensive logging of wood by this company caused an increase in timber transport by Narrow Gauge Railway.
From 1929, when the management of the Narrow Gauge Railway took over the Directorate of State Forests in Białowieża, their correct exploitation began. In 1939, the Bialowieza Forest was occupied by Russians, who also obtained large quantities of raw material. Narrow Gauge Railway still had a lot of work, because in addition to transporting timber they were the means of locomotion of the local population. In 1941, the Białowieża Forest area was occupied by Germans who transported the raw material collected by the Russians. In 1944, immediately after the liberation of the country, destruction began to be removed. A train from Hajnówka to Białowieża was started. Mechanical workshops developed in which the rolling stock was repaired, and the loading of wood was also mechanized.
The role of forest Narrow Gauge Railway in wood transport decreased in the 1970s, along with the development of road transport. More sections of tracks were removed so that, as a result, they were 123 km long. The transport of timber by Narrow Gauge Railway was discontinued in 1991. Since that year, the forest railway has been used exclusively as a tourist, on the Hajnówka-Topiło route (11 km). In 2001, an additional route was created: Hajnówka-Dolina Rzeki Lesna (6 km).