Die Wuppertaler Schwebebahn


Safely suspended

Anton von Rieppel is a pioneer of modern large-scale industry. And he had a weakness for bridges. His supporting framework was used, among other things, on the Wuppertal suspension railway.

Anton von Rieppel was surrounded by technology even as a child: his parents owned a hammer mill in the Upper Palatinate region and Anton had to lend a hand from the age of 11. Consequently, when he was 17 in 1869, he went to the industrial school in Munich. He began studying at the technical school in Munich two years later. Dr. Karl Max von Bauernfeind, founder and director, wanted to keep the gifted Anton at the school. His pupil, however, was drawn to practice, to industry. Specifically: to bridge-building.

Protection against swinging and flooding

From 1874, Anton von Rieppel worked for the bridge-building company “Süddeutsche Brückenbau-Aktiengesellschaft” in Munich. After working for some other companies, he finally became director of Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN). In 1895, he developed a supporting framework, which was named after him, for the Wuppertal suspension railway opening in 1901: the Rieppel supporting framework – “Rieppel- Träger” – consists of three plane load- bearing structures connected by diagonal bars. The vertical one only bears vertical loads. At the top and bottom, it is connected to two horizontal plane load- bearing structures. The vertical and the top plane load-bearing structures are brought together at the piles to form a support point with ball supports. Anton von Rieppel’s invention is considered a pivotal innovation for the realization of the suspension railway. It protected the structure from flooding and swinging from side to side and ensured the railway’s power supply. In 1897, the engineer was granted a patent for his invention, which was later also used for Dresden suspension. In the same year, the Talbrücke bei Müngsten was completed under his direction. This was another project in which Anton von Rieppel made a name for himself as an industrial pioneer.

(Header image: suspension railway in Wuppertal, source: cphotos100 – fotolia.com)

Konstruktionszeichnung des Rieppel-Trägers
from the patent application

Place of invention

Vogelweiherstraße 33, 90441 Nürnberg