The history of the Obertauern skiing region
Skiing on historic grounds in the Salzburg region of Austria
The history of Obertauern starts long before the first skiers discovered the dreamy slopes in the region. About 2400 years ago Celtics settled at the border between the Pongau and the Lungau district. With the arrival of the Romans, the Roman State roadwas created, which lead via the Tauern pass and connected Italy with Juvavum, today’s Salzburg region. From approximately 100 B.C the Romans used the road via the pass for frequent merchant’s traffic.
After the breakdown of the Roman Empire at around 500 AD, mainly Bavarian tribes settled in the region of Obertauern. Until the early middle ages Bavarian Lords reigned over the Tauern Mountains, the region of Salzburg only became independent in the 13th century. The first documented mention of the Radstadt Tauern mountains is dated in the year 1207. A document from the year 1224 confirms the existence of the little church by the Tauernscharte. In the year 1517 two taverns are first mentioned at the Tauern. The first written proof of tourism in Obertauern mentions the “twee hosts at the Tauern Mountain”. Those are still known to this day as the taverns Gasthof Schaidberg and Gasthof Wisenegg.
During the high time of baroque in Salzburg, the region Obertauern also experienced a boom: 1764 was the year the very first post office in Untertauern was opened, which was responsible for the letter exchange across the Alps for years to come.
The first tourists in Obertauern were – how could it be different – skiing folk. Although it was mentioned for the first time in 1902, tourism only came to flourish after the end of World War 1. In the 1920s the skiing tourists still embarked on the strenuous ascent on foot to Obertauern, and enjoyed the following descent on skies even more. Interestingly the first tourism in Obertauern was not connected to the winter season, as most tourists poured into Obertauern during the summer months. Between 1925 and 1927 the first Tauern races for cars and motor cycles took place.
The birthday of winter tourism for Obertauern is on the 8th December 1929. On this day the first regular winter schedule started via the Tauern pass. World War 2 marked a cornerstone for the development of winter sports in Obertauern. From 1948 until into the 1960s ski and piste fun still meant hard work: the pistes were trampled hard by skiers, who received 3 free rides per hour for their efforts. By 1950 the first tow lifts were installed, as well as the first avalanche protection buildings. Between 1952 and 1961 the first set of modern cable cars and tow lift facilities were erected.
In 1962 the transformation was complete: Obertauern was the official name of the township and was entered into the history books. In the following year the first motorized snow cat in Austria started running in Austria’s Obertauern.
The skiing primary school of Obertauern was getting famous, after including next to 7 main subjects the subject of skiing into the school’s regular schedule.
Fame of a different kind honoured Obertauern in the year 1965: The Beatles produced parts of their legendary movie “HELP” in front of the dreamlike backdrop of Obertauern. Two years after this, the modern snow cats change the way pistes are groomed and built and to make wider ski runs possible with extensive territory changes. From then on more tourists were able to enjoy the winter fun in Obertauern. Through the connection of all lift facilities in 1969 the first form of the nowadays Tauern Loop Trail was created. Not much later than that Obertauern came to fame as a modern and popular winter sports destination, with its reputation reaching far beyond the borders of Austria.
In 1985 the first snowmaking machines in Obertauern were introduced. From now on skiing tourists had guaranteed snow during the whole of the winter season. Between 1991 and 1998 the building of a flood- light station made an international furor and resulted in well filled pistes – until late in the night.
Obertauern became a stronghold of alpine ski sports: with 100 kilometres of extremely well cared for pistes, 26 modern lift facilities, artificial snowmaking facilities and a touch and go ski pass system. On top of that bridges over the Katschberg A road make sure that you experience uninterrupted skiing fun in Austria. Equipped with the latest infrastructure, the region of Obertauern in Austria presents itself as a world famous skiing region and one of the best ski areas in Austria, not to mention one of the most popular.