On 15 December 1963, the future began in Ischgl: after challenging construction work and major setbacks, the Silvretta cableway was put into operation. The inauguration and opening ceremony did not take place until 12 January 1964. But what a day! And what guests! We take a look back.
The weather that Sunday was excellent. The Ischgl chronicle reported “wonderful winter weather” on “this most important day for Ischgl and the whole of Paznaun.”
The programme began with a celebratory service in the Ischgl parish church, and continued with a “reception for all invited guests” at the Silvretta cableway valley station.
These included not only local dignitaries such as Ischgl’s Mayor Kurz, the chairmen of the cableway company, Erwin Aloys and Rudolf Wolf, with the president of their supervisory board, Winfried Wörth, but also Otto Probst, then Federal Minister for Transport and the Electricity Sector – together with the appropriate staff.
High-level state representatives from the arts came too, as well as many national and state government members, to honour the celebrations with their presence.
“Developing this cableway,” said chairman Erwin Aloys in his ceremonial speech, “has been a long and rocky road.” He was referring to the difficulties in building the cableway and putting it into operation – and he praised the toughness of the people of Ischgl, who had remained resolutely optimistic in the face of the setbacks in the construction and test phases, and not simply thrown in the towel.
Two pupils from the Iscghl primary school then made an appearance, performing a poem:
„… weil mas da Fremda z’liab hat baut/ hat ma auf kann Kosta g’schaut/ Nu was halt grad am böschta sei/ und wo ma as komotascht Platzli hei/ dass es d’Lana mit derwischt/ dass es mit z’weit vom Dörfli ischt/ dass ma d’Station von weitum sieht/ und dass es in d’r Sunna leit …“
“… because we built for the sake of guests/ we have spared no expense/ we’ve chosen only the best/ and the most convenient place/ where it can’t be caught by an avalanche/ not too far from the village/ where you can see the station from far away/ and it shines in the sun …”
The Federal Minister’s address was solemn in comparison: “When the fully-occupied cabins of this daringly-constructed cableway set out now on the way up the mountain, then let this be a symbolic lucky charm for the economic and social advancement of all the inhabitants of the Paznaun valley, and furthermore of the entire Tyrolean state …”
The minister was quite right about that.
Finally, after the cableway had been consecrated by the local priest Franz Haider, there was a celebratory banquet in Hotel Madlein:
Halibut, garnished in aspic; oxtail soup with old sherry
Vol au vents; asparagus, hollandaise sauce
Sirloin of ox, larded, in cream sauce, cranberries, potato balls and fine vegetables
To finish, charlotte and coffee for desert.
The celebratory menu was printed on silk, as a foretaste of the better times that were just beginning.