Vesuvius, Italy

Napoli. | Il Vesuvio-Cratere in eruzione
(Crater of Vesuvius erupting)
Publisher: Ettore Ragozino, Galleria Umberto-Napoli

Probably a modified/fabricated image, published just before the 1906 eruption.

Mount Vesuvius is a somma-stratovolcano located on the Gulf of Naples in Campania, Italy, about 9 km (5.6 mi) east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is one of several volcanoes which form the Campanian volcanic arc. Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and originally much higher structure.

The eruption of 5 April 1906 killed more than 100 people and ejected the most lava ever recorded from a Vesuvian eruption. Italian authorities were preparing to hold the 1908 Summer Olympics when Mount Vesuvius violently erupted, devastating the city of Naples and surrounding comunes. Funds were diverted to reconstructing Naples, and a new site for the Olympics had to be found./em>

Napoli. | Il Vesuvio-Carozza della Funicolare
(The Funicular car Vesuvia)
Publisher: Ettore Ragozino, Galleria Umberto-Napoli

During the 1870s, a Hungarian railway promoter named Ernesto Emmanuele Obleight commissioned an engineering study on a possible funicular railway on the final steep ascent to the summit. The Banco di Roma was willing to back him, but he encountered opposition from the local community, which he bought off by means of an annual payment of £99 (£1 = US$5 in the late 19th century) plus a tax levied on every passenger. The £16,000 contract was eventually awarded to E. Oliveri of Milan in 1879, but such were the difficulties of the work that line was no opened to tourists until 6 June 1880. The construction of this funicular railway inspired the Neapolitan song “Feniculi Funicula”.
Thomas Cook & Son’s Vesuvius Railway (pdf)

“Funiculì, Funiculà” lyrics and information (Wikipedia)

Technically the funicular consisted of two separate tracks, one for each of the two counterbalanced cars (left), which seated 8 and were named ‘Etna’ and ‘Vesuvio’. The route was 806 metres long and climbed 391 metres at a maximum gradient of 63%. There was a longitudinal wooden sleeper on the top of which was carried a single rail. The cars had a double flanged wheel at each end which ran on this rail. In addition there were two angled rails, one fixed to each side of the sleeper at its base. The cars had wheels mounted from their floors which engaged on these side rails and kept the cars upright. Each track had two continuous cables carried on pulleys which were fixed to each side of the car. These cables were 22mm diameter steel ropes with a hempen core and with six strands each consisting of eight steel wires. The winding house was at the bottom, where there were two 45 horsepower high pressure steam engines (one a reserve) and coal fired boilers. The winding drum had automatic brakes to control the speed and the cars also had automatic brakes applied if the cable went slack. As coal had to be brought up the mountain on horseback, this became an expensive item.
. . .
A 1911 eruption destroyed the funicular upper station building which had once again to be rebuilt. All went fairly well for many years with no damage in the 1929 eruption, and with three larger cars being acquired for the electric railway in the 1920s, but by the 30s the line was losing money and because of nationalism in Italy the system was passed to a locally registered company, Società Anonima Italiana per le Ferrovie del Vesuvio, which was a Thomas Cook subsidiary. The lines ran during the Second World War but in March 1944 Vesuvius erupted again, once more destroying the funicular. The electric railway reopened but with low income prospects Thomas Cook could not rebuild the funicular and sold the railway to the operators of the Circumvesuviana railway. In 1953 a chair lift was installed by Von Roll to serve the summit. At this time the electric railway was still running, but soon partly closed as an improved road was built to Eremo, and at the end of 1955 it completely closed.
Tramway Information

Napoli. | Il Vesuvio visto dal Molo
(View of Vesuvius from the Molo)
Publisher: Ettore Ragozino, Galleria Umberto-Napoli

Leave a Reply