Defying the ravages of time
Giovanni Bertolini, a famous architect, built the main train station in Lingenau in 1910. The 'Bähnle' ('little train') as it has been lovingly called by the people of Bregenzerwald used to be a narrow-gauge railway with a gauge of 760 mm. From 1902 to 1983 it drove through a 35.5 km long stretch from Bregenz to Bezau. The old station Lingenau lies precisely in the middle of the stretch, and after the closing of the Bregenzerwald railway in 1983 it passed into oblivion and was on the brink of destruction.
Over 14 years later in 1997 shortly before the property was about to be destroyed the outdoor company HIGH 5 rescued it and brought it back to life, in contrast to the fate of most other stations in Bregenzerwald. The outdoor pioneer Chris Alge recalls: "Mayor Peter Bereuter, just fresh in office was like a 'fox'. He called my attention to the site including the building, he was able to get rid of ruins while I was in the middle of developing 'Hinterholz 8'.
In 2007 the building project started and the house was completely refurbished. The building stock was treated very carefully and whatever could be kept was salvaged. The old building restoration was expensive, but Chris Alge could not bear to simply knock it all down. The result was a harmonious mix of traditional and modern architecture. 34 regional companies including 24 from Bregenzerwald - worked on the restoration together.
The ravages of time and three huge floods had previously 'gnawed' on the impressive building and its plot. Yet Alge never once considered tearing the building down. With the repeated encouragement of his energetic assistants and the support of the government and local community, he succeeded in restoring the Lingenau train station so that it could flourish once again. Now, where weary travelers used to sip a cold beer, generous apartments and HIGH 5's office space emerged.
Giovanni Bertolini would surely feel true joy if he could see the high craftsmanship demonstrated by the companies in restoring and maintaining the railway station of Lingenau.