Bad Ischl’s ropeway history began in 1955 with the foundation of a company by the name of Katrin Cable Car AG. Two years later, in 1957, a materials-handling ropeway was built, which was used to transport more than 1,000 tons of construction materials over a six-month period. Unlike other Austrian resorts, where preference was given to bicable circulating ropeways, the Bad Ischl installation was the first gondola to be built as a monocable circulating system.
Work on the Katrin Cable Car was completed in 1958 and the ropeway went into service in 1959 following an opening ceremony attended by leading public figures from the province of Upper Austria. The original Katrin Cable Car was built by the Kienast company with a detachable carrier system engineered under licence from the Swiss Oehler Aarau company. What made the ropeway so special was that the carrying-hauling rope had fingers at regular intervals, to which the gondolas were attached automatically with the help of a hook. On entry into the stations, the gondolas were released from the finger to permit loading and unloading with the gondolas stationary.
This was doubtless the most remarkable detachable carrier system of all time. It was also one that required regular relocation of the fingers on the rope, and that was a complicated and time-consuming process. In addition to a number of incidents with incorrectly attached gondolas, this is why the hook and finger system was soon abandoned in favor of automatic rope grips. Apart from the Katrin Cable Car, the Oehler system was only used on a few ropeways in Switzerland and also by the French licensee Applevage in France.
The original Katrin Cable Car in Bad Ischl had a total of 49 light-metal two-seater gondolas. At first it operated only as a summer attraction for visitors to what was once the Austrian Emperor’s favorite spa, but in December 1964 winter working began with single chairs instead off the gondolas. With the line of the ropeway located on a north-facing slope, the chairlift was ideal for skiing until well into spring, and year-round operation was assured.