The history of the Arlberg

SINCE 1885

The history of Arlberg abounds in pioneering spirit. It was the passion and unabated innovative force of some unforgotten pioneers that made the world-famous ski resort what it is today: the cradle of Alpine skiing. Since 1885.

The cradle of Alpine skiing

The foundation for this was laid at the end of the 19th century – with the opening of the Arlberg railway tunnel, which brought the first guests to the region. Over the years, Ski Arlberg has become the largest connected ski resort in Austria, one of the most important locations in the history of Alpine skiing, and the epicentre of the ski sport.

Milestones in the history of skiing


The Arlberg tunnel brings the first guests to the region.

Emperor Franz Joseph I inaugurates the Arlberg railway tunnel. The train connection from Bludenz in Vorarlberg via Langen am Arlberg to Landeck in Tyrol brought the first guests to the Arlberg region.


The first pair of skis on Arlberg

A norwegian engineer, visiting the construction of the railroad line between Innsbruck and Bludenz for study purposes, brings the first skis to Langen in 1885. Three gentlemen - innkeeper Fritz from the Hotel Post in Langen, an "Ing. Bischof" and a third, unknown man from Langen - use them on a trial basis. The three are the first skiers on the Arlberg, who presumably do not strap the skis under their feet for the purpose of everyday locomotion, but for their own pleasure. 


A pioneer is born.

Johann (Hannes) Schneider is born in Stuben – later, he went down in history as a gifted ski racing champion and inventor of the "Arlberg technique". He begins his career as a ski instructor in St. Anton and, later, becomes the founder and managing director of the ski school there. 


The first pair of skis on Tannberg

A small step for Father Müller from Warth – and a big step for the history of skiing: In 1894, the priest brings the first pair of skis to the western Arlberg/Tannberg to make his commute between Warth and Lech a lot easier.


The hour of birth of the Ski Club Arlberg

Six friends, one project: "Ski Club Arlberg" is founded at Hotel Hospiz in St. Christoph. 


On your marks, get set, go!

On 5 June 1904, the time has finally come: The first ski race is held on Arlberg – still without ski lifts or groomed ski runs! 


The first skiing lessons

Learning from a professional: Viktor Sohm teaches the first ski lessons in Zürs. Initially, only locals take part but, from the early 1920s on, guests participate as well.


Ski School

The first ski school opens its doors – founded by Hannes Schneider in St. Anton am Arlberg.


Der Weiße Rausch - a film with consequences

The Arlberg holds a remarkable film history. During the 1930s, director Arnold Fanck staged a series of films on the Arlberg that, among other things, had a lasting impact. In particular, his breathtaking ski scenes, prominently featured in the classic "Der Weiße Rausch", not only leave a formative influence on skiing itself, but also help to make it known far beyond the borders of the Alps.


The first tow lift

Premiere for Austria's first tow lift in Zürs. Three years later, the first ski lift in Lech follows.


Summit ascents by cable car

Galzigbahn in St. Anton is the first cable car in the world designed exclusively for winter operation. It has a transport capacity of up to 120 people per hour.


Austria's highest cable car

The new Vallugabahn transports winter sports enthusiasts up to an elevation of 2,811 metres above sea level, which makes it Austria's highest cable car at the time. 


Invention of the "Arlberg Jet"

Michael Manhart - cable car entrepreneur, technical visionary and grandson of ski pioneer Sepp Bildstein - developed the "Arlberg Jet" snowmaker at the end of the 1970s/beginning of the 1980s. The Arlberg Jet was also used to make snow exclusively for the Olympics in Calgary (1988).



The world’s first heated chairlifts

The world's first heated chairlifts in Lech and Schröcken provide more comfort for winter sports enthusiasts.


A revolution in cable car construction    

For the funitel system of the new Galzigbahn, the cabins are connected to a pair of two parallel overhead cables. This enables passengers to board and exit them level with the ground.


A new connection      

A further milestone is the connection of Lech Zürs with Warth-Schröcken via the Auenfeldjet cable car.


Inauguration of the Flexenbahn

The construction of the Flexenbahn connects Zürs with Rauz/Stuben and makes Ski Arlberg the largest connected ski resort in Austria.


SINCE 1885