New Thing #113: Funiculaire

FuniculaireIn all the excitement of Quebec City and its beauty and the new food and new activities I tried, I almost forgot about one of the first New Things I did there...which was also one of the coolest. Quebec City has a funicular.

Do you not know what that is?

Don't worry - I didn't either.

It's what you see at left - a vertical rail car.

And I guarantee you - even if our group didn't end up taking the 'Funiculaire' (that's French for funicular) shortly after we arrived in the city, I would have made sure I did it before we left.

One of the teachers I was with was familiar with the idea of a funicular. She thought there was one in Lake Placid - I couldn't find evidence of it other than a vaguely-captioned picture, so I can't 100% confirm this as true.

What I can say is that funiculars are not all that uncommon. There's some in the United States - San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles - as well as internationally - Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.

I did a little bit of research on the Quebec funicular (and was dismayed to find it had been shut down from 1996-1998 after a cable snapped, the emergency break didn't work, and a woman was killed in the crash...good thing I didn't know that last week): It covers 59 meters (that's 193-and-a-half feet), and it's a nice option because I forgot to mention this, but Quebec City is quite hilly. Like, San Francisco hilly. (I remember the hills in San Francisco but I don't remember the funicular. I'll have to look out for it when I go back.) So it's probably a nice option every once in a while other than all the staircases.

The 'Funiculaire' dates back to 1879, though in 1945 it was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt. The ground floor (or bottom, depending how you say it) of the funicular is the building known as the Louis Jolliet house - you might know that name because he discovered the Mississippi River. (Or, perhaps, it might be better to say he was the first European/non-Native American to discover the Mississippi.)

But the best thing about the funicular is the view it offers of the 'Lower Town'. It's such a picturesque city - the funicular is another spot where you can really appreciate the beauty of Quebec City: