Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway
Marvel at our forefathers' pioneering achievements in railway technology surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery. Start with us from Realp station in the Canton of Uri (1420 m above sea level) on an unforgettable, thrilling trip which takes us in some two hours in carefully restored old-timer trains to Gletsch in the Canton of Valais. First, the over 80 year old steam engine climbs the rack rail uphill along the rushing waters of the Furkareuss. It travels at a leisurely speed over the bold Wiler bridge, through the three Senntumstafel tunnels and across the famed Steffenbach folding bridge. A first stop in Tiefenbach is used to fill up with water. With a full boiler the journey continues past Alpine meadows full of flowers. Puffing rhythmically, the locomotive with its coaches crosses the Steinstafel viaduct. Then follows a short stop at the highest station Furka (2160 m above sea level). After this, the train runs through the 1874 m long summit tunnel towards the Valais. At the Muttbach-Belvédère stop, the rake begins the descent on the rack track which has a gradient of up to 118 pro mille.
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Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.
The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.
Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".
Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.
In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states.
Text by Steve Smith.