Müngsten Bridge is the highest steel railroad bridge in Germany. The bridge is 107 metres (351 ft) high and spans the valley of the river Wupper, connecting the cities of Remscheid and Solingen. This stretch is part of railroad route nr. 458 betweenWuppertal and Solingen. It is used exclusively by line RB 47, aka “the Müngstener”. Originally the building was named Kaiser-Wilhelm-Brücke (Emperor Wilhelm Bridge) to honour Emperor Wilhelm I. After the end of the monarchy the bridge was re-named after the nearby settlement of Müngsten, which is close to the city limits of Solingen, Remscheid and Wuppertal. Today, the settlement no longer exists, so Müngsten is simply a landmark.
The bridge was a masterpiece of Victorian-era engineering. For its time, it was a highly sophisticated structure. It astonished the local population, many of whom had had little exposure to such state-of-the-art engineering work. Very quickly, urban legends began to spread. Some of these unfounded “tall tales”, (which are sometimes repeated to this day), are:
- Allegedly, the last rivet fastened in the bridge was made of pure gold.
- Allegedly, due to computational errors made by von Rieppel, the architect, half of the bridge had to be demolished since the two simultaneously built halves did not fit together.
- Allegedly, von Rieppel threw himself off the bridge and died in the fall.
Of course, there is no truth in any of these stories. The bridge was constructed as planned; von Rieppel’s complex calculations, (all carried out without the aid of computers or arithmetic aids), were correct – he died about 30 years later after an unrelated illness. What might be true are rumours about Emperor Wilhelm II’s boycott of the inauguration ceremony. According to legend, the Emperor was annoyed that such a state-of-art structure was named after his grandfather, Wilhelm I, not after himself. He therefore decided not to attend the celebrations in person.