The Oberau Tunnel was the second railway tunnel in Germany after a railway tunnel on the Tollwitz–Dürrenberg Railway , but it was the first tunnel of a normal railway on the continent of Europe. It was driven between 1837 and 1839 on the Leipzig–Dresden railway by Freiberg miners and opened out in 1933/1934. Today only an obelisk commemorates this milestone in German railway history.
Although the Leipzig–Dresden railway ran over the fairly flat terrain of northern Saxony, the northern slopes of the Dresden Basin meant that a tunnel was required because at that time it was believed that trains on major railways could not climb significant slopes. Similarly, the Berlin-Dresden railway, which was built half a century later, partly running parallel with it, has its steepest gradients in this area.
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