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Livestock Lifts


Some agriculturalists need a tractor or combine harvester, and for others, a gondola. Home to the largest concentration of cable cars in the world, this mountainous region takes farming to new heights.

In the canton of Nidwalden, the sight of slow-rising gondolas is a sign of things running as usual, rather than a unique tourist spectacle. Used by farmers in the area to access the valleys below, many of these cable cars were constructed between 1920 and 1940, as the technology became more accessible to common farmer folk. Unlike the nearby ski lodges and Alpine resorts, these gondolas are for personal use and thus are manually operated by the car’s passenger instead of an ever-rotating lift. The cars, or “Buiräbähnli,” are a part of everyday life at this altitude, where over 40 contraptions are used for errands, storage, or the occasional delivery.

While technically private property, the cars can also be used by hikers for a small fee. For the adventurous, hiking the “Buiräbähnli Safari” path from the Engelberg train station consists of over 28 miles of trails through the surrounding mountains–with the promise of spotting some horned chamois or sheep. 

The mountains and valleys around Engelberg promise a truly picturesque day at the farm. Thankfully for one’s feet (and knees), the cable car is there to whisk workers and visitors back after a long day in the fields.

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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