Sylvanau ... Epoch I

Contents: History | Prussian Locomotives | Models

Station in Arendsee, Mecklenburg, 1914, with narrow-gauge locomotive of class T7.

Epoch I is an attractive choice for modellers of German railways due to its diversity and color. Railroads started popping up in the German states starting in Bavaria in 1835. After the unification of the nation in 1873, each state maintained its own railway administration up until shortly after World War I. Most states developed their railroad technology quite differently, and so most have their own unique flavors.

When the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft was established in 1920, the German railroads developed mainly following the dominant Prussion influence. Over time, standard classes were introduced and older equipment was replaced by newer. But several older classes of locomotive survived even into the 1970's when steam was banned from German tracks.


Short History of Epoch I

Station in Rehna, Mecklenburg, ca. 1910, with locomotive of class III pulling a passenger train.

For convenience, modellers and manufacturers divide Epoch I into several sub-categories. Although classifications can tend to be arbitrary, the designation Epoch I allows a modeller to narrow down the scope of models in a consistent and reasonably convenient manner. The following categories are defined by NEM standard 800. To put things into better context, the early parts of Epoch II are also described.


Epoch Ia

Although Ia is the official designation, the period from 1835 to 1875 is often called "Epoch 0" since it bears little in common with later periods. The first locomotive in a German state was der Adler, a British 2-2-2 design, which ran on a line between Nürnberg and Fürth. At right is a photo of the full-size reproduction of der Adler built for the 1935 exhibition in Nürnberg.

Models of trains from this era tend to be very limited edition models.

Epoch Ib

The era between 1875 and 1895 saw the establishment of the nine major state railways following German unification. Along with a number of smaller companies, state railroads were established in Prussia, Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, Oldenburg, Alsace-Lorraine (Elsaß-Lothringen), Saxony, Mecklenburg, and Hessen. Prussian passenger cars were painted different colors depending on the class, with grey for 4th, brown for 3rd, green for 2nd, and green or yellow for 1st class. (1st class was reserved for royalty.)

Epoch Ic

The period from 1895 to 1910 saw the standardization of technology between the various railways. Also appearing were four-axle passenger coaches and super-heated steam locomotives.

Accoriding to the NEM 800 standard, unless otherwise qualified, Epoch I models fall into this sub-group.

Epoch Id

The end of Epoch I was marked by a great deal of churn, mainly caused by World War I. This era saw the establishment of a freight van exchange pool whereby wagons from different states could be seen in all German states, regardless of origin. Also new were electric locomotives.

There are enough differences with the years before 1918 that the years 1918 to 1920 should perhaps be labelled as a different sub-epoch. At the end of the war in 1918, royalty was abolished. Along with that, any words relating to royalty were dropped from the names of the railroad administrations. For example, the "Royal Prussian Railroad Administration" (KPEV) became the "Prussian State Railway Company" (P.St.E.V.). Very quickly following the end of the war, royal emblems were removed from locomotives. First class (reserved for royalty) was abolished from passenger coaches. Prussian passenger coaches were now painted green for all classes.

Many commercial models are from this era, which in some ways demonstrates a problem with the classification system since there is so much variation in this one sub-epoch alone. One reason this sub-epoch is popular with manufacturers is that in many cases they can produce an Epoch I model simply by repainting a model designed for Epoch II. In some cases, the prototypes for some Epoch I models existed only after the end of the war.

Epoch II

Epoch II officially began with the merging of the individual state railways into one national railway company in 1920, the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft. In the early part of Epoch II, most locomotives still sported the same green color they had in Epoch I, but were numbered following a unified scheme. In the late 1920's, steam locomotives began to be seen in a black and red paint scheme, which would be used until the end of steam in Germany.


Prussian Locomotive Classes

KPEV Class Wheel
DRG Class Years
Express Locomotives
S3 ooOO 130 1892-1903 2 cylinder compound
S4 ooOO 135 1906 2 cylinder
S52 ooOO 136-8 1903-1905 2 cylinder compound
S6 ooOO 1310-12 1906 2 cylinder
S9 ooOOo 140 1907 4 cylinder compound
S10 ooOOO 170-1 1910 4 cylinder
S101 ooOOO 1710-11 1911-1914
S102 ooOOO 172 1914
        Although the Prussian railways ordered some Pacific's (4-6-2) for express service, they weren't delivered until after the formation of the DRG.
Passenger Locomotives
P41 ooOO 3670 1896-1897
P42 ooOO 360-4 1898-1906
P6 oOOO 370-1 1903
P8 ooOOO 3810-40 1906-
P10 oOOOOo 390-2 1922
Goods Locomotives
G3 OOO 5370-71 1877
G41 OOO 5376 1897
G42 OOO 5310 1882
G43 OOO 533 1903
G51 oOOO 540 1895
G52 oOOO 542-3 1895
G53 oOOO 546 1901-
G54 oOOO 548-10 1901-
G55 oOOO 5410 1901-
G71 OOOO 550-6 1893
G72 OOOO 557-13 1895
G73 oOOOO 560 1893
G8 OOOO 5516-22 1906
G81 OOOO 5525-56 1913-
G82 oOOOO 5620-29 1919
G83 oOOOO 5558, 561 1919
G9 OOOO 5523-24 1907
G10 OOOOO 5710-35 1910
G12 oOOOOO 5810-21 1918
G121 oOOOOO 580 1915
Tank Locomotives
T3 OOO 8970-75 1883
T51 oOOo 71 1895-1907
T52 ooOO 710 1899
T7 OOO 8978 1884
T8 OOO 8910 1906
T91 OOOo 900-2 1893
T92 oOOO 910-1 1893
T93 oOOO 913-18 1900-1906
T10 oOOO 760 1909
T11 oOOO 740-3 1903
T12 ooOO 744-13 1902
T131 OOOO 925-10 1910
T14 oOOOOo 930-4 1914
T141 oOOOOo 935 1918
T16 OOOOO 942-4 1905
T161 OOOOO 94517 1913
T18 ooOOOoo 780-5 1912
T20 oOOOOOo 950 1922
T26 oOOO 970 1902 Rack loc
T28 oOOOOo 974 1921 Rack loc

Sample Epoch I Models

Although Era I is gradually getting less and less coverage by model train manufacturers, there's still a good selection available. But you have to be patient since most Era I models are limited editions. In a sense, Era I is a good choice since you can buy all you want and not go broke!

Photo of model freight vans
Mecklenburg freight vans from Märklin and Fleischmann.

Photo of model freight vans
Prussian freight vans from Fleischmann.

Photo of model freight vans
Bavarian freight vans from Fleischmann and Trix.

Photo of model freight vans
Hessen freight van from Trix.

Photo of model freight vans
Oldenburg freight van from Fleischmann.

Photo of model freight vans
Sachsen open freight wagons from Roco and Piko.

Photo of model freight vans
Württemberg freight vans made by Märklin.

Photo of model freight vans
Baden freight van made by Märklin.

Photo of model freight vans
Lübeck-Büchen Eisenbahn tank wagon made by Fleischmann.

Photo of model freight vans
Open goods van class Omk of the Elsaß-Lothringen railroad, an N-scale model made by Fleischmann.