The Mocanita train on Vaser Valley in Romania tells the story of a revival. Built in the '30-'35, the rail with a 760mm gauge was used by the local shepherds from the mountain area to transport down the valley the logs that were cut down in the mountains. During the war, the rail was partially destroyed by German groups, but it was rebuilt. The story goes on until 2008 when it was affected by sever floods, but it was re-established and now works in perfect conditions.
Although its primary destination is logging - and the Mocanita is still used for that purpose - in 2004 a touristic rehabilitation campaign was began by a Swiss enthusiast who visited Romania 17 years earlier. The steam engines used have unique names, and were built in 1919, 1921, and the '50's, in Germany and Romania. The line is used also by other converted vehicles such as minivans, border police, rangers, or just as a faster way to get high in the mountains.
The word Mocanita is the feminine diminutive form derived from the word mocan: one who lives in the mountains. Indeed, the steam locomotive that escorts the coaches moves like an old gentle lady. Full with combustible, she weights 24,8 tones. The line is only 56 kilometers long, between Viseu and Izvorul Coman, and the train will often stop for water, so it will take a good 7 or 8 hours to get to final station on the border to Ukraine. After accosting the wood on the scaffold, the train comes down the mountain in another six hours.
This part of Romania is well known for its very well conserved local pastoral and agricultural tradition, its amazing rural scenery, the local woodwork and and craft work industry, as well as its churches and rural architecture. Maramures region survived the communist period and Ceausescu's large industrialization campaign, and it is one of the most picturesque scenery in the region.
If you decide to take this trip, dress well because even in summer time it could get chilly. And remember that this is a stem engine, and the train is used for logging, so don't expect a luxurious ride. There is a terrace coach available from where you can enjoy the view, so make sure you check the weather. Pack some food, dress well, and hop on this marvelous train that made local history well known all around the world. While talking to genuine mocans and enjoying the beautiful scenery, keep in mind the fact that this train looks history in the face, and that the steamy trip you're taking has been on the roll for ages.
Viseu de Sus, Maramures, Romania
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