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Circa 1900, my ancestors made the trip from Zagreb, Croatia to Pittsburgh, USA several times. There were also seasonal workers who made the trip more than that. For the boat leg, Bremen, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland was common, although other ports were used.

I am curious about the total travel time. In 1895, I know how long the boat trip was from passenger list records (12 days). Baltimore to Pittsburgh isn't that far, probably only one day. Maybe one night in Baltimore before catching the train the next day.

The Zagreb to Bremen leg is the biggest unknown for me. It is 600 miles straight line, probably a few hundred more by rail. I haven't found much on train speeds, but I found some vague references that indicated about 30 MPH. It seems that although the trains were capable of faster speeds, the quality of the tracks would cause them to use a more conservative speed.

Another big unknown are the stops and connections. I don't know how much time these would add.

Edit: More background. The people on the Croatian Genealogy Facebook Group use bogardi.com as a reference. Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for most of the mass immigration. Bremen was the most commonly used port, although there were others. The passenger lists of people in my genealogy tree agree with this (ancestors, siblings of ancestors, spouses of these siblings, about a dozen total). They mostly departed from Bremen, although some departed from Cherbourg, Le Havre, Rotterdam, or Hamburg. None used Triest.

The Croatian Genealogy experts on the FB group believe that the trip to major US cities was sold as a package/bundle (ship + train) to make it easier on the immigrants.

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    The answer in history.stackexchange.com/questions/69992/… may help
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 0:49
  • As (probably) evident from the answer: please clarify whether 'a trip from Bremen' was "common" at the time 'for the general mass of travellers', or 'for this set of travellers' (your relatives)? Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 18:34

1 Answer 1

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The train journey to Bremen would have been:

  • First leg: Zagreb (Agram) - Zidani Most (Steinbrück)

    This is on the so-called "Croatian railway". The 80 km would have taken 2 hours.

  • Second leg: Zidani Most (Steinbrück) - Vienna

    The 360 km on the Südbahn would have taken 12 hours, including traversal of the Semmering pass at 898 m above sea level.

  • Third leg: Vienna - Magdeburg

    This answer shows a direct connection from Vienna to Magdeburg taking 21 hours. If that did no longer exist in 1895, changing trains in Dresden would not have lost much time.

    It is also possible there would have been a mandatory stop at a "Control and Registration Station" run by the Norddeutscher Lloyd. They give "mainly sanitary reasons" for this, but also describe typical visa check procedures:

    Einem vorwiegend sanitären Zweck dienen die Kontroll- und Registrierstationen an den Grenzen und im Inland. Die Kontrollstationen entstanden ursprünglich an der preußisch-russischen Grenze bei Ausbruch der Cholera und sind seitdem im gemeinsamen Betrieb des Norddeutschen Lloyd und der Hamburg-Amerika-Linie beibehalten worden. In den Kontrollstationen werden die Einwanderer einer ärztlichen Untersuchung unterzogen, müssen baden und ihr Gepäck desinfizieren lassen. Außerdem dient die Kontrollstation dazu, die über die Stationen nach Deutschland hineinfahrenden Passagiere daraufhin zu prüfen, ob sie als Auswanderer nach überseeischen Ländern, als Erntearbeiter für Deutschland oder als Einwanderer nach Deutschland zu betrachten sind.

    A station on the route at Leipzig was opened in 1904. Whether there were comparable controls at the border in Bodenbach before that I cannot say.

  • Fourth leg: Magdeburg - Bremen

    The so-called America line was taken by a lot of travellers from south-eastern Europe to Bremerhaven. Its 290 km to Bremen would have taken 6 hours. Since 1894, there was a special train by the Norddeutscher Lloyd from Berlin-Lehrter Bahnhof to Bremen, which would have passed through Magdeburg, although Lloyd admits that only a minority of its passengers were using this service:

    Bei diesem Zuge handelt es sich im wesentlichen um solche Passagiere, welche erst im letzten Augenblick von Berlin abzufahren wünschen. Seine Benutzung ist daher bis jetzt auch noch eine verhältnismässig bescheidene...

  • Fifth leg: Bremen - Nordenham

    Between 1890 an 1897, passenger ships crossing the Atlantic could not be accommodated at the Bremerhaven Lloyd Hall and were sent to Nordenham across the river. I have no confirmed travel times for that part, but between one and two hours are realistic. Ship passengers of the Norddeutscher Lloyd would buy their transatlantic ticket at least in Bremen, and it would include a chartered train from Bremen to the kay and separate transportation of baggage directly from hotels in Bremen to the ship. Timetables for that train would depend on the departure times of the ships:

    Der Fahrpreis für die Beförderung von Bremen nach Bremerhaven ist im Passagepreis einbegriffen. Die Abfahrt der Züge richtet sich nach der von der Flut abhängigen Abfahrtzeit der Dampfer.

Realistically, if you had started in Zagreb in the morning, you would have reached Vienna in the evening. You could have taken an overnight train to Leipzig. If you had to pass the registration there, it would have lost you that much time that at best you could have reached Magdeburg in the evening, maybe only the following day. That would mean you could have been in Nordenham on the third afternoon or evening at best. Whether you could embark on a ship the same day, or if you had to stay another night in Bremen, would mostly depend on the tides.

I initially was wondering if Bremen is a realistic port. As you can see, it takes some time to get there across the continent. I think it would have been possible to get to Trieste by train within one day, and the Austro-Americana had around 10 regular (freight) ships running to US ports in the Carolinas. They only started passenger services in 1905, but would it have been possible to book a passage on one of those? The question seems to be moot since you have other evidence for the use of the route via Bremen.

For a detailed discussion of emigration from Austria to America, see Monika Korntheuer: Der lange Weg nach Ellis Island - Emigration aus dem österreichischen Teil der Habsburgermonarchie über deutsche Häfen nach den USA um 1900. From the contents list, it seems to discuss travel organisation in detail.

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  • @LangLangC - Regarding Bremen. This is the table that is used as a reference on the Croatian Genealogy Facebook Group: bogardi.com/gen/g025.htm Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for most of the mass immigration. The passenger lists of people in my genealogy tree match this fairly well (ancestors, siblings of ancestors, spouses of these siblings, about a dozen total), mostly Bremen, some Cherbough, Le Havre, Rotterdam, Hamburg, none using Triest.
    – Mattman944
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 22:17
  • Also FYI, the Croatian Genealogy experts on the FB group believe that the trip to major US cities was sold as a bundle (ship + train) to make it easier on the immigrants.
    – Mattman944
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 22:23
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    @Mattman944 I've added some more information from a book about the history of the dominant steamer company Norddeutsche Lloyd: Paul August Ferdinand Neubaur, Der Norddeutsche Lloyd, 50 Jahre der Entwickelung. 1857-1907, Leipzig 1907. It emphasizes that American train tickets were sold to transatlantic travellers, but whether there were also "packages" on the European side, beside that one connection from Berlin and the shuttle trains in Bremen, remains a bit unclear. References are only made of roundtrip tickets in Europe for American tourists.
    – ccprog
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 23:41
  • @Mattman944 This info should go into the question body (not stay in comments)? Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 7:20
  • Sea travel was for a long time a dangerous endeavor - one could die not only from sunk ship, but disease (most often), running out of food and water. Regular service by fast steamships improved the about 10% odd of dying on that trip (yes, from Bremen or Hamburg to US East Coast ports), especially in late 19th century, to much lower levels, but it didn't eliminate them. So the preference was shortest possible sea-bound leg of the trip. Trip from Trieste would nearly double that, and people were understandably wary of this.
    – AcePL
    Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 8:32

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