We have already alluded to the laudable attention paid by the Austrian government to the means of communication throughout the empire. From Pavia, on the S.W. Frontier, an uninterrupted Macadanmized road conducts the traveller through fine provinces to Czernowitz in the Bukowina, a distance of upwards of 1,110 miles. From Milan to Vienna there are three lines of roads, and through Galicia the line is double. Three grand high-roads from Venice, and two from Trieste, lead to Tyrol and Germany, and double lines run from each of these cities to the capital. Prague is connected with Vienna by numerous lines of communication, which are continued to the frontiers of Bavaria, Saxony, and Prussian Silesia. Materials for making roads abound in every province; and the art is well understood in Austria, where the roads are equal to those of Prussia. Upwards of sixty mountain passes, through the most extensive ranges of mountains that any single state possesses, have been made not only practicable, but commodious for traveling and commercial purposes. The lowest of these, as measured from the level of the sea, is, perhaps,l the road along the Danube from Denkova to Orsova, in the Transylvanian military frontier. The most celebrated is that of the Stelvio or Wórmser Joch, in South Tyrol. In length these passes vary from 10 to 70 miles. On the roads across the Alps, from Tyrol and Illyria, the greatest sums have been expended; their importance in a military point of view, and the necessity of facillitating the communication with a powerful and not very well affected province, rendering them indispensable. The roads across the Spiügen, the pass of Finstermünz, and the Wórmser Joch passes over an elevation of 8,400 feet above the level of the sea, and is protected in dangerous parts by covered ways of solid stone, which receive the fall of the avalanches, and cause them to glide into the depths below. This undertaking has surpassed the passages of the Simpion and mount Cenis, both in boldness and splendour of execution. But the exertions of private industry have not remained far behind those of the state.
In Hungary, many nobles still consider it a privilege, not to be obliged to contribute to the cost of making roads which tent so much to enhance the value of landed property. Individuals, however, have at no time been wanting among that respectable body who were sufficiently enlightened to set a laudable example on this point. A joint-stock company, chiefly composed of Hungarian nobles, undertook the execution of a road between Caristadt in Croatia, and Flume on the Adriatic sea; it was carried over part of the Julian Alps in a very splendid manner. On that part, known by the name of Karset, the porous nature of the rocks made it necessary to construct cisterns to catch the rain-water; and stout parapets have been added, which protect the travellers and carriages against the furious blasts of the Bora, which, without this check, would sweep away everything in its course. This road was commenced in 1803, and named after the archduchess Maria Louisa. Two other lines, one between the same points, the other running from Caristadt to Zeng and Carlopago, across the same mountain range, each of which was scarcely less expensive, although not so serviceable as the “Louisentrasse,,” had been erected by, and called after, the emperors Charles VI. And Joseph II.
The iron railway between Budweis in Bohemia, and Linz in upper Austria, finished in 1829, was executed at the cost of a private company, and has since been extended on the S. Side of the Danube as far as Gmünden. It is 75 miles in length, but consists of one line only, and the carriages are drawn by horses. The line from Budweis to Linz was rendered unnecessarily expensive by ill-judged economy in the first instance, as it became necessary to exchange the original wooden rails, covered with metal plates, for others of cast-iron. The traffic has chiefly consisted hitherto in the salt conveyed from the mines of upper Austria, to be consumed in Bohemia. The reports of the committee for 1837 shows the transport to have been,
Salt ..................... 291,826 cwts.
Merchandise ....... 151,258
Wood ....................... 2,538 cub. fath.
Fish ............................ 157 loads
Persons .................... 3,888
Nett revenue for the year, £8,130
The number of shareholders is 13,183, at 50fl. per share; but owing to the increased expense attending the works, they have, as yet, divided no profit. The line from Linz to Gmünden being part of the high-road from Vienna to Ischl, which is much frequented as a watering-place, has a greater number of travellers, and was better managed from the beginning, as the experience of the first attempt was turned to good account. Its traffic, in 1837, was,
Salt ..................... 512,319 cwts.
Merchandise ....... 130,328
Persons ................... 77,905
Nett revenue for the year, £5325
This left a profit to be divided among the new shareholders, to whom the first proceeds are guaranteed a certain amount, beyond which the shareholders, in general, are to participate. The length of this line is 32 miles; and the cost, inclusive of magazines, station-houses, forty-five carriages, and 230 wagons, did not exceed £65,000. The charge for transport of goods is three kr. (1 ½d.) per cwt. A second railway, upon a similar plan, was commenced about the same time between Prague and Pilsen, in Bohemia, but was abandoned for want of funds, when only 39 miles of the distance had been completed. Prince C.E. Fürsenberg purchased it subsequently of the company, and let it to an enterprising individual, who keeps it in repair, and is said to derive some advantage from it.
Vienna to Bochnia Edit
The railroad, now constructing by a joint-stock company, from Vienna to Bochnia in Galicia, for steam-carriages, will have a length of nearly 400 miles. It follows the valley of the March or Morava, through Moravia, as far as Napagedl, with side branches; one to Presburg, along the Danube, another along the Thaya to Brünn and a third following the March to Olmutz. From Napagedl the line follows the Beczwa, a tributary of the March, to Prerau, where it crosses over the heights near Weisskirchen, into the valley of the Oder, and the Oppa to Troppas, where it is to unite with the Prussian Silesian railway; while the main line crosses the heights near Seibersdorf into the valley of the Vletula, and throwing off another short branch to Bielitz and Biala, follows that river to Cracow, whence, with gentle undulation, it reaches Bochnia, leaving Wieliczaka a little to the South. This railroad is to be for steam-carriages; and the total estimate of its cost, with station-houses, etc., amounts to £20,000 per German mile, which was subscribed in 12,000 shares, of 1,000 fl. each. Of the probable importance of this spirited undertaking, not only for the foreign trade of the empire, we shall have an opportunity of speaking under the head of Trade etc.
Vienna to Trieste Edit
The sanction of the government was obtained, in the year 1838, for a railway between Vienna and Raab in Hungary; as, however, in granting the privilege, a reserve was made in favour of any company undertaking the establishment of a railroad from the capital of Trieste, there are grounds for supposing that it is in contemplation to give every possible aid to such an enterprist whenever it is undertaken. The face of the country through which a railroad from the Danube to Trieste has to pass, presents the greatest difficulties that have as yet been encountered by a railroad company; but when we consider the means at the command of the Austrian government, the circumstances that the materials lie along the track itself, and the probable immense gain upon a line which should unite two such provinces as Galicia and Hungary with the sea, it is rather a matter of surprise that it has not, as yet, been attempted, than that the difficulties should discourage from the undertaking.
Venice to Milan Edit
Between Venice and Milan the works have already begun upon a railway, intended to be carried through Pudun, Vicenza, to Milan. The length of this railway will be 300 kilometers, and the estimate of the outlay gives £1,800 per kilometer, including the cost of buildings and carriages.
Rivers, Lakes, and Canals Edit
We have see that the river system of Austria is upon a grand scale, and it is likewise, to a great extent, made available for the purposes of internal navigation. In order to give an idea of the facilities for commerce which this immense empire possesses, we subjoin a rough estimate of the length of navigable rivers, lakes, canals, measured on the beautiful map drawn up from actual survey by the Imperial Engineer corps, and published in 1832. The length of each river is measured by straight lines, following the principal bends, but not the windings of the stream; and the result is, for
No allowance is made in this calculation (which is intended only to draw attention to so important a feature of these rising countries, and is offered in the absence of an authenticated statistical statement), for the double bed or arms of the Danube, the Theiss, and other rivers in Hungary. If these be taken into account, the length of the navigable (or, rather, navigated) rivers might perhaps be trebled. It is remarkable that both the Danube and the Dniester are interrupted in their course to the Black sea by rocky prominences in their beds, which impede their free navigation. It has, however, been proved, that although a difficult and expensive undertaking, it is by no means impracticable to free the beds of both rivers from rocks. The hint thus given by nature seems scarcely to have been required to point out the superior advantages of a communication with the Adriatic in the present state of European trade; and which is likewise nearly accomplished in a natural way by means of the little river Kulps, a tributary of the Save, which, when its water is high, may be navigated to the heard of Croatia, to within 70 miles of Flume, and which might with ease be transformed into a regular canal. A better line of communication might perhaps also be established between Carlstadt and the Adriatic, near the fall of the Villebit mountains, to the South of Carlopago, for which a part of the Josephine road might be used, but Astaris, instead of Carlopago, might be chosen for a point from which coasters could keep up a communication with some of the numerous harbours on the Austrian coast.
Another grand private undertaking was the introduction of steam-boats on the Danube by a company at Pesth, under the direction of Count Stephen Sxicheny, which has proven most successful; and companies have since been formed in Austria and Bavaria, who have established a steam communication from Ratisbon to Vienna, and thence to Trebisond, Constantinople, and Smyrna. In 1838, these companies had ten vessels plying on the Danube between Linz and Constantinople, and two of which were used for towing ships of burden, one between Presburg and Drenkova, the other between Orsova and Brailoff on the lower Danube. The journey from Vienna to Constantinople is now performed in twelve days, including a day of rest at Pesth, and two days for disembarkation at Drenkova, and re-embarking at Ornova where the rocks of the Kisernen Thor impede the steam navigation. This passage, which formerly was altogether impracticable, was opened for vessels of light draught in 1834, by a corps of engineers and miners, under the guidance of Count Szicheny: 1,000 miners were employed for some time between Lyupkawa and Szviniza, and removed upward of 1,000 cubic fathom of rock, after which the first barge floated in triumph down the stream. A close investigation of the spot (the result of which was published in the Vienna Gazette) showed that a renewal of those exertions would effect, without any extravagant outlay, the opening of the stream for navigation by all vessels downward. But, until this can be effected, a road along the river has been constructed, which must be used for heavy goods brought up the river, even if the passages down were improved, on account of the rapidity of the stream in this part. Of the numerous rivers in Hungary, the Theiss and the Maros are the most extensively navigated. The carry barges of 300 to 400 tone; and 50,000 tons of salt along are conveyed upon them from the Transylvanian mines to different parts of Hungary.
Steam-boats are likewise building for the navigation of the principle lakes; that intended for the picturesque lake of Gmunden will commence running in 1839. On the lakes Maggiore, Como, and Garda, steam-boats have been established for some time, and a steam-boat communication is kept up between Venice and Turin on the Po. In the summer of 1838, a steam-vessel, belonging to the Dresden Company, ascended the Elbe as far as Teschen in Bohemia, and demonstrated the possibility of introducing this species of navigation with vessels of light draught upon that river. Nearly at the same time the first attempt with a steamer was made upon the Save, which ascended from Semlin to Szissek in Croatia (at the mouth of the Kulpa) in fifty-seven hours. In a few years we may, therefore, expect to find in Austria a most extensive and well-arranged system of internal steam navigation.
Ports and Harbours Edit
The principal commercial port belonging to Austria is Trieste, upon the Adriatic, which has been declared a free port, and is accordingly shut out of the custom line as well as Venice, which has the same privilege; so that the duty on imported goods, instead of being paid on the landing of the wares, is not demanded until they are sent into the interior. Venice is the seat of the admiralty, which has splendid dock-yards and naval arsenals, which, however, have long been left in unprofitable repose. Flume is the port of Hungary; and though not a good place for vessels to lie at, is likely to attract a great deal of the attention of English traders, in consequence of the treaty recently concluded between England and Austria. Pola, in Istria, has one of the finest harbours on the Mediterranean; but it is so unhealthy from the prevalence of malaria, that it is almost uninhabited. Schenico, Cattaro, and Tagum in Dalmatia, are all good harbours. The merchant shipping of Austria in 1834, is stated by Becker, from official sources to have been,
A very spirited company at Trieste has been established, within a few years, under the name Loyd's Austriaco. They have a number of steam-boards built at Porto Ré, near Flume, with which a communication is now kept up between Trieste and Venice, the Dalmatian harbours, Greece, Smyrna, and Alexandria. The tenth steam-boat of this company was launched in 1838.
Post Office Edit
The furnishing of post-horses is, throughout the empire, a branch of the General Post-office. The traveller is well supplied in every province on the grand lines of communication; and the rate of travelling is as good as in Prussia and France.
The manner of charging the postage of letters is peculiar to Austria. If the distance does not exceed six posts, the charge varies from 6 to 14 kr. for a single letter; 14 kr. is the highest charge made within the empire, whatever be the distance of the places. The Austrian post-office keeps no running account with foreign post-offices. All letters must, therefore, be franked to the frontier.