Another addition to the uniqueness of the Klaipėda artistic culture is the "Switchman" by the local sculptor K. Pūdymas. The sculpture depicts a dignified, bearded East Prussian switchman, whose one hand is tucked away under the lapel of his uniform and the other is holding a lantern. The sculpture stands near a red brick house in Salomėjos Nėries street. The house marks the place where the first ever narrow-gauge railway in the entirely of the Klaipėda region stood, thus is considered a cultural heritage.
The sculpture is facing the direction of an old locomotive, just outside the present-day railroad station. It may seem trivial at first, but it is meant to convey an emotional connection; as if the statue is reminiscing about the good old days.
The Sculptor has commented that he tried to revive the spirit of the past as well as accent the switchman’s features and character. Just by looking at the face of the switchman, one cannot help but be reminded of the old locomotives that operated up until 1939. (Sculptor Klaudijus Pūdymas)
Tramcars in Klapėda
With the demand for good infrastructure rising, in 1898, the locals of Klaipėda were given the technical marvel of the time – the tramcar. The construction of the railroads and trams was funded by local businessmen. The idea was to connect the city centre with Smeltė, the port, the railway station and the lighthouse. In 1901-1904, the tramline was finished; the first line was through the lighthouse–Smeltė–the railroad station–Smeltė. The trams transported not only passengers, but goods as well, and connected industrial districts with residential, took passengers near the beach. The locals of Klaipėda quickly got used to the tramcars and used the commodity with pleasure. The tramcars were a new thing for the locals of Klaipėda, but visitors from other parts of Lithuania were simply stunned by the innovation; Lithuanian cities had never seen such technical ingenuity even at the brink of the Second World War. (Excerpt from Nijolė Strakauskaitė "Klaipėda. History Put in Simple Terms").
The tramcars were disbanded in 1934, although the line to Smeltė ran for some time after. The suburban districts were connected by the narrow gauge railroad, but during the Second World War, they were disbanded as well.
Some hundred years ago, the narrow-gauge station was established in the red brick house, which is located near the present-day railroad station. The station was named Memeler Kleinbahn and operated until the end of the Second World War.
First talks to establish such a station along with the railroad began in 1898) and in 1904 - 1906, those talk materialised and the first three lines were laid down. The line officially opened on the 22nd of October, 1906. It ran through Klaipėda, just outside the city, then split into two lines: one went through Dovilai to Laugaliai, the other – to Plikiai. The railroad carried passengers and various cargoes.
During the Great War, Danė bridge was destroyed and the railroad abandoned, but later, a new line to the Gas Factory and Slaughterhouse was laid. After the Second World War, the lines were dismantled and the station was repurposed.