On 20th September 1880 the first part of the Ahrtalbahn running from Remagen to Ahrweiler was ceremoniously inaugurated. Already at that time many visitors came to Neuenahr to bathe in the hot spa's and also Apollinaris was shipping a lot of mineral water out to the world.
Soon the planning of the extension of the branch line to Adenau was startet and work commenced in April 1884. Two years later Altenahr was reached and finally Adenau in August 1887. Almost a year later on July 15th, 1988 Adenau was officially served by trains.
Up to that time the branch lines in the Eifel were planned solely to socio-economic reasons, even sometimes some were not built due to military concerns. But at the dawn of the 20th century this thinking of the military was revised and a new strategy known as the Schlieffen-Plan was defined.
In 1909 a total upgrading of the Ahrtalbahn to a dual track main line and a connection to the Eifel-main line was started.
Three years later the this task was completed including two branch lines, one from Ahrdorf via Blankenheim to Blankenheim-Wald and another from Hillesheim to Gerolstein. The main route was to connect the rhine with the Eupen-Malmedy area via Lissendorf and Jünkerath.
After WW I was lost, Eupen-Malmedy was integrated into Belgium and the importance of the Ahrtalbahn dwindeld, as only the oldest part was of economic importance, and the status was revised to a two track branch line. In the late 30s the Ahrtalbahn became again stratecically important and it was in constant use during the war. In 1945 quite many bridges and trackwork were destroyed not only to bombardment, but also by retreating german troops. Later, following a directive from the allies, the second track was lifted from Walporzheim to Lissendorf.
The branch line Hillesheim - Gerolstein suffered such bad destructions that it was never repaired and the line to Blankenheim was reopened only in June 1951. As this line was not profitable to the Bundesbahn, it was closed and the track lifted from Ahrdorf to Blankenheim already in 1958.
The connection from Dümpelfeld to Hillesheim was closed in 1973 and the remaining track from Lissendorf to Hillesheim and Blankenheim-Wald to Blankenheim survived only due to some small industry for a few more years.
Even the last remaining branch was threatened several times, with Hönningen - Adenau closed in 1985 and the 11 km track lifted in April 1986. Passenger traffic terminated already in Kreuzberg, but a small factory located in Hönningen saved this part of the line with a daily freight train of about three waggons until end of 2000. In the summer of 2001 the track was lifted and a new road uses the trackbed nowadays.
When the Rheinland-Pflaz-Takt, an integrated timetable, "reached" the Ahrtalbahn in 1996, the station of Ahrbrück was reopened. Nowadays this is the last stop possible, as the closure of the factory in Hönningen made it possible to the Deutsche Bahn to close Ahrbrück - Hönningen to all traffic on Jan 1st, 2000.
Today several km's of the trackbed of the second track are being used as a cycle path from Walporzheim to Mayschoß, Dümpelfeld to Adenau and Dümpelfeld to Schuld, including two tunnels. The proposed cycle path from Schuld to Blankenheim will probably re-use the disbanded trackbed of the "upper"-Ahrtalbahn in 200X.
But steam nostalgia returns regularly since 1996 with the "Ahrtalkurier" running every weekend in September and October from Cologne via Remagen to Kreuzberg. Only the big depot at Kreuzberg is waiting to be re-opened by the historic society "Museum Bw Kreuzberg".