The voyage aboard the steam train
The tourist railway starts from the ancient sawmill “la Forge”, which belonged to the O.N.F. The Abreschviller Forest Railway Association has rented most of the old buildings such as: locomotive depot, workshop and diverse sheds. All these buildings are communal properties.
The departure area has been refitted, drawers built, as well as the station-ticket office. In a wing of the old workshop, toilets were built.
At the time of logging, one line connected the railway to the SNCF passing in front of the train station. Another line ran along the Saar to the west, about 2 km to the Marcarie sawmill.
From the departure station, the train leaves towards the east, going up the Valley of the Red Saar.
To the right, we first go along the campsite which is bordered on the south by a lake allowing swimming in the summer.
On the left, a view over all of Abreschviller; dominated by the cemetery chapel; the village of 1400 inhabitants was known from 715 under the name of Ermenbertovillare, in 1015: Elberswylel
A whistle announces the level crossing of the rue du Moulin, on the right, the communal gite.
Then we see on the right the sports complex: football, basketball and tennis.
600 m from the start, we join the forest road of Basse-Frentz.
On the right, the forest house of Basse-Frentz dominated by the wooded hills of the Sauvageon, wich contain the Oxen and Glassworks Rocks (Hiking circuits marked out by the Club Vosgien with viewpoints.)
A little further on the left, the fish farm,a place with a lot of events in summer: fishing contest, a buying trout…
After a wooded passage, the view gets better at kilometer 1.4, at the level crossing towards St-Quirin and on the right the hamlet of Lettenbach (The Glass Factory), original Glass Factory founded in the 15th century and transferred in 1888 to Cirey-sur-Vezouze.
The line now leaves the road to go deeper into the forest, at the foot of the Streitwald massif, following the Red Saar.
At km 3.5 on the left, the medical centre of Saint-Luc (ancient departmental sanatorium opened in 1900 on the site of an old glass factory and cellulose factory). The train follows the deer park of this establishment.
After passing through the forest along the romantic stream, a very tight bend in a small rocky parade leads us,to the right, to the fork from where started one of the two main branches of the network, the one below the Donon. (approximately 10 km up to the head of the Red Saar valley, with numerous branches into the side valleys: 15-20 km). If two trains are on the line, the passing takes place here, the uphill train then moves over to the over line for 100 m to avoid collision with the downhill train on the original line.
From this fork (Rommelstein),from where many walks begin, the train takes the old preserved railway line as far as Grand Soldat.
After crossing the Red Saar on a winding bridge, we cross the valley, then the Donon road (on the right, the forest house of the Ermitage).
With steam traction, we pick up speed to mount the short ramp at 7% which takes us up to the valley of Grand Soldat.
At the kilometer 5,3, we arrive in the hamlet called Grand Soldat (altitude 350 m), where an old glass factory was created in 1722. On the left side of the hamlet, the birthplace of the writer Alexandre Chatrian (1826-1890).
The train leaves the hamlet to arrive at its terminus, 300m further on, in the middle of beautiful fir forests.
Before 1966, the line continued to the head of the valley 2 km further, and thenchanged direction 4 km further to the Breschpunckt Pass (alititude 540 m)
From here, the line went down to the Zorn Valley. On the right, the line went up on about 4km and then went down again for 10km to Neustadtmühle Schaeferthal, below Dabo.
At the current terminus, you will find a souvenir shop, a picnic area and a “Haut-Fer” sawmill with paddle wheel.