Johann Nepomuk Höchle: Horse-drawn boats, lithograph, c. 1830

On Land, on Water and in the Air

Energy Crises and Transport Problems


In the eighteenth century the Habsburg rulers saw themselves confronted with increasing energy consumption and congested traffic arteries. People were ordered to save energy; ‘Nature’ was being difficult.

The increasing population and the beginnings of industrialization led to more and more arable land and firewood being needed. However, the primary sources of energy were in increasingly short supply. A large number of decrees were meant both to regulate and limit the consumption of wood and to induce more people to use coal. Because the main deposits of coal were found in Bohemia, it was there that heavy industry moved in the nineteenth century. Transport planners also had to struggle with topographical conditions. In order to take pressure off the roads and to accelerate the transport of goods, Joseph II ordered the development of waterways. For passenger traffic it was the mail coaches, which were in service from the middle of the eighteenth century, that became increasingly important. The first balloon flights, on the other hand, served not so much as a means of transport as something to inspire enthusiasm and fascination.

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