The Adler

The first steam locomotive in Germany


From Newcastle to Nuremberg

The Adler (German for "Eagle") was the first working steam locomotive used in Germany. It was imported from England and was in service for 22 years, hauling trains on the Ludwig Railway between Nuremberg and Fürth. The DB Museum has two replicas of this legendary locomotive.

The original Adler was built by the British locomotive works Robert Stephenson & Co. in Newcastle upon Tyne. It took more than two months to transport the engine to Nuremberg: dismantled into individual parts, it was carried by sailing ship, steam tug, river barge and horse-drawn wagon via Rotterdam, Cologne and Offenbach to the workshop of Wilhelm Späth in Nuremberg. There, it was assembled and placed into service on the new tracks between Nuremberg and the neighbouring city of Fürth. It was accompanied from England by the engineer and engine driver William Wilson, who led the reassembly work and was due to return to Newcastle once he had trained the German locomotive drivers. After falling in love with a woman from Nuremberg, however, he remained with the Ludwigsbahn (“Ludwig Railway”) for the rest of his life. A tall, imposing figure on the footplate with his top hat and gentleman's overcoat, he made a huge contribution to the railway's popularity.

The first journey

The Adler's first official journey began at 9 am on 7 December 1835. There was no doubting the historic significance of the moment as the British locomotive and its nine carriages left the station in Nuremberg. Nine minutes later, the 200 guests of honour arrived six kilometres away in Fürth, thrilled by the unaccustomed speed and smoothness of the ride.

The Adler's trails

The Adler was sold in 1858. Sadly, no trace of the original remains. However, there are two full-size replicas: the one built in 1935 is in working condition and is used for some public journeys. The second replica, exhibited in vehicle hall I, was built in 1952 by apprentices of the Deutsche Bundesbahn and served as a stationary exhibit at trade fairs before coming to the museum.

A brand new replica

The working replica from 1935 was severely damaged in a fire at the museum's roundhouse in 2005 and was subsequently restored over a two-year period at the Meiningen steam locomotive maintenance depot. The engineers took the latest research discoveries into account in the colour scheme and shape of the chimney, so that today's Adler looks even more like the original than it did before the fire.


Vehicle Hall I

Technische Daten

Robert Stephenson & Co.
35 km/h
approx. 65 km/h
41 HP/30 kW
6,700 mm
14 t

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