Somewhere on the bank of the Wasser river, a few kilometers South from the Ukrainian border, where the land with high mountains and deep forests can be seen, you can find one of the last remaining narrow gauge steam railways in Europe, and with it the well-known steam-train – Mocanita.
Built after the first World War only to carry logs that would later be part of the composition of the well-known gates and churches of Maramures region, Mocanita is still used nowadays for its original purpose. However, with time, despite its old age, it was given another role – that to carry tourists, as well.
Unlike the standard gauge trains that run on 1435 mm gauge, Mocanita runs on 760 mm one, this technicality offering it a certain quality – that to be able to access easier the rocky valleys which are hidden in century old forests, offering its passengers some of the most amazing fairy-tale like views they’ll ever witness.
One of the places that piques the interest of tourists when riding with Mocanita is Wasser valley which crosses the Maramures Mountains in the middle of one of the most beautiful and wild landscapes of Romania.
Its access point is Viseul de Sus city, which also constitutes the starting point of the steam-train Mocanita. Given the fact that this place is one of the fewest where someone can ride in a wagon pulled by steam power, each year the old Mocanita attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world, offering them thus unforgettable journeys.
They can ride the Mocanita up into the end of the valley and also back, in the meantime enjoying the striking beauty of the Romanian nature, with the possibility of stopping down the road where they can afterwards start a trip through the mountains.
The starting point of the journey is at the train station Viseu de Sus, which is not a usual train station given Mocanita’s initial role, therefore misses the platform for passengers. However, that doesn’t constitute a problem for the tourists given its scenery that makes it even more authentic, accompanied by a strong smell of fresh wood.
How does a trip with this century old steam-train look? It all starts fresh in the morning, when the morning dew has hit fresh and Mocanita is prepared for its day to day journey: both its wagons for logging carriage and passengers one are attached to the steam-engine. Afterwards, the “main dish” that Mocanita serves in order to run is brought: water and wood supplies, after which the mechanic starts the engine. After a while, its well-known strong long whistle is heard and the steam puffs along the way.
Following the Wasser river in cascades, the train first passes along the houses of Viseu de Sus. Afterwards, after about 7 kilometers, the route engulfs itself in the wilderness of the forests, passing by the strait’s steep cliffs, making its entry into the mountains through dark tunnels.
The nature’s silence that follows is not only interrupted by the noisy and rushed waters of the rivers, but also by the train’s puffs and hissing and the locomotive’s sharp whistles. Mocanita then gently sneaks up the steep slopes, often giving the impression that it’s not going to make it forward, and that the steam power it’s not enough, only at the end to surprise its passengers with victoriously continuing its adventure and transporting them to picturesque planes that look as torn from a fairytale book.
It is then when all the contact with the contemporary world is lost, given that whenever one travels with Mocanita, it sends you back in the times when technology wasn’t so advanced so, for example, if you find yourself not having phone coverage, do not panic! It’s just a normal thing to happen.
That is why we advise you to just let yourself be immersed in the magic of the Mocanita steam-train and the utterly scenic places it’s going to take you, while you’ll be its passenger.