In 1915, as the First World War raged, Austrian soldiers built a narrow-gauge railway line from Dobbiaco to Landro, in order to secure the supplies on the Italian front, where the rears were at that time.
It was a field railway, in German Feldbahn, on which they traveled trains towed by steam locomotives, as Evaldo Gaspari remembers in his book “La Ferrovia delle Dolomiti”.
In the spring of 1916, however, the Italians made a narrow gauge military railway, but slightly different from the Austrian one: 0.75 m against 0.70 Austrian and 1.435 of the so-called normal gauge. This new railroad connected Peaio to Zuel.
Always on the Italian side, a year later, the works of another line began in the area, still in narrow gauge; Therefore, as a result of the alternate events of the war, he touched the Austrians to extend their stretch to Calalzo.
Thus, the embryo of what would become after the end of the conflict was the Calalzo-Dobbiaco railway line for freight and passengers, with the gauge of 0.95 meters, widely spread in Italy. On June 15, 1921, the line Calalzo-Dobbiaco was inaugurated with great simplicity, and a year and a half later it was named “la Ferrovia delle Dolomiti” (the Railway of the Dolomites).
At first the locomotives were the same vaporizers, called Feldbahn, which had been used by the Austrians and had become war prey. Then the line was administered by the Military Directorate, then passed to the Royal Circuit of Bolzano, as the State Railways did not want to know how to take the line in management. Finally, in 1924, it was entrusted to the SdF, the Society for the Railway of the Dolomites: came, in short, privatized.
The epic of the Cortina train began: important works improved the route making it safer, new locomotives were built in Germany (the imposing Mallet) and in 1927 the electrification works began in 1929.
Here are the electric cars and those white and blue carriages that more than anything else symbolize this mythical railway line, on which they traveled real heights and champions of sport, actors and billionaires, adventurers and riders.
It was an epic, which ended in 1964, which left all the lovers of our beautiful valleys a wave of nostalgia, as they often do great and beautiful things.