How the Vorokhta railway became transformed into “a pearl among resorts”

Train from Vorokhta to Warsaw

Train Vorokhta-Warsaw

120 years ago commenced the railway line Stanislav-Voronenka that made deep Hutsulshchyna accessible to tourists from all over Europe. The Railway gave a major boost to the development of Vorokhta that quickly gained a reputation as the pearl among resorts. From the centre of Warsaw to Vorokhta travelled a special “dancing train.”

Built in 1894, the railway line Stanislav-Voronenka opened previously inaccessible corners of the «terra incognita» Hutsulshchyna. It was in the summer of 1913 that the grandson of the last Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph Archduke Wilhelm of Habsburg-Lothringen travelled incognito by train through Lviv and Stanislav in the second class compartment to Hutsulshchyna. The grandson, later a great sympathizer Ukrainians, will later assume the pseudonym Vasyl Vyshyvanyy.

Leaving the train at Vorokhta on 10th August 11 1910 Mykhaylo Kotsjubynsky, the future author of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, plunged into the world of Hutsulshchyna. Later in 1912 the sick writer was accompanied in the train from the station Kryvorivnya by the prominent historian Ivan Krypyakevych. In August 1914, on retour from Krivorivnya the genial writer Ivan Franko spent a couple of days in a small hotel in Vorokhta, waiting for permission to take the railway to Lviv. Later with the outbreak of World War II, the eminent writer Bohdan Lepky left the Hanus hotel in Yaremche to board the train Stanislav-Voronyenka towards West Europe through Vorokhta … The list can be continued.

Vorokhta reached by the First World War a strong recreational potential, which was constantly and diligently developed. Popular hotels were “Klapper” and “Yasna”, a tourist haven of the Polish Patranski Society (hereinafter – PPS), and “Yard Montenegrin,” which was for the sick members of the Health Insurance societies in Drohobych and Stanislav (now resort “Mountain Air”), then the holiday home for finance officials “Skarbovka” and the sanatorium of Roman Catholic priests “Ksizhovka”, the recreational colony for children of employees of the railroad, the “Teachers ‘Camp’ of the Society of mutual aid of Ukrainian teachers, the Jewish Academic rest home, and boarding houses “Varshavyanka”, “Lena”, “Oasis”, “Liliana” and others.

In Vorokhta in 1922 a springboard was built by experts from Zakopane – the centre of winter sports in Poland – and local people still call it “skochnya”. That same year, March 4-6, the Polish championship was held in Vorokhta. Champion in ski springing was A. Rozmus from Zakopane (27.5 meters). An absolute sensation was the successful performance of women – Elizabeth Mihalevski-Zyetkevich. In Vorokhta would also perform the Norwegian Birger Ruud (1911-1998) three-times Olympic champion.

narrow gauge vorokhta carpathians

Vorokhta narrow gauge

In this region take place annual military ski trainings, and since 1937 – instruction trainings of the Winter Rescue Service. The organization of Tourist Mountain hiking in Vorokhta was aided by the information agency of the PPS and since December 1936 – by the Tourist Bureau League for promotion of tourism, which is located in its own house near the train station. Here one could buy a booklet guide into the valley of the river Prut titled “Panorama from the windows on the railway carriage Delyatyn – Vorokhta”, published in 1934 by the Directorate of Railways in Stanislav.

Popular became a set of postcards with views on the region of Yaremche, which was published by Polish Society of Railway Bookshops called Rukh. The Post office of Vorokhta would put the stamp Worochta Perla uzdrowisk. Raj narciarczy (Vorokhta. The pearl among resorts. Paradise for skiers) on postcards and letters which were without a stamp.

In 1933 and 1934 took place in Vorokhta a feast of Hutsulshchyna, during which were held exhibitions of art creations of local masters, a demonstration of a Hutsul wedding, appearances of Hutsul ethnographical musical and dance collectives, demonstrations of national costumes, races of Hutsul horse equips. In 1937, the Society of Friends of Hutsulshchyna and the League to Promote Tourism organized Vorokhta Days with the aim to popularize the winter season in Hutsulshchyna and Vorokhta as a winter resort. On the Feast of Hutsulshchyna thanks to the Ministry of Transport, guests had a 50% discount on the railway ticket to Vorokhta and the return ticket was free.

In the period between the two World Wars, as remembered by the private physician of General Wladislaw Anders, Dr. Emil Nedzvirsky, a special train with the unofficial title “Narty, dancing bridz” (Skiing, dancing bridge) traveled between Warsaw and Vorokhta. Additionally to the sleeping compartments were connected wagons in which orchestras sat with musicians that presented musical hits, to which guests danced on the parquet floor. Tables were set for players of bridge. The renting of skis was also planned in the dancing wagons. The locomotives of such trains as a rule were decorated in winter with spruce branches. They had on the frontal part the inscription “Ski raid to Vorokhta” and train Kraków -Vorokhta an Easter egg was displayed on a cross-placed pair of skis …… branches.

Another attraction for tourists in Vorokhta was a rail line with a narrow track. For the transportation of logs between Vorokhta and Ardzhelluzha first one built a six kilometer long forest track with a width of 760 mm and d small locomotive with the name “Rosenberg” was purchased from the manufacturer Krauss.

After World War I, a section of the railway was built to Zavoyela and soon to Foreshchanka. The length of the track became 14 kilometers and the width was altered to 750 mm. In the years from 130 onwards, there was a continuous flow of passengers to Goverla. At that time only one locomotive PT4 and one diesel locomotive MD-54. Before World War II appeared a plan to extend the narrow track from the tartak to the railway station. However, it was not realized.

Hugo Steinhaus (1887-1972) a polish mathematics specialist of world fame, who visited Vorokhta for a holiday in 1926, wrote enthusiastically – “The nicest in the areas of Vorokhta the valley of the river Prut near Forentschanka, to which leads the narrow rail track. Passengers sit in open wagons, which are used for the transportation of trees. They receive sunshine, the full aroma, and a noise of this forested valley”.

His own impressions of the forestry railway Vorokhta-Foretshanky expressed in his description “Wandering in the Hutsulian mountains” the Swiss journalist Hans Sbinden in 1932. Regretfully the narrow forestry track was closed in 1965 in connection with a road that was constructed from Ardzhelyuzha to Goverla.

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