Preserving the line and operating historic trains on it was already in discussion at the end of regular operations in 1972. But it took until 1984, that activities could be bundled successfully by the Freundeskreis Schättere (Circle of friends of the Schättere), then in the association Härtsfeld-Museumsbahn e.V. (Härtsfeld heritage railway association). Below you can find a chronologic overview with the most important events from the beginning of the 80s. History of Härtsfeld railway and Härtsfeld heritage railway have been described by Jürgen Ranger in the three issues of ARGE Schmalspur Info 4/2014 to 2/2015.

1981 Founding member Peter Weis suggests the reactivation of the Härtsfeld railway in a letter to the local newspaper Schwäbische Post on 07/10/1981

1984 Optical renovation of heritage steam loco 11 in Neresheim
The exterior repair has been executed from March to August in the Neresheim loco shed and thereafter, loco and stake car and two trolleys have been installed as a memorial on a former level crossing on the street towards the monastery. The two founding members Werner Kuhn and Clemens Lüffe meet on the inaugaration on 22/08/1984
1984 Fouding meeting of the Cirle of friends of the Schättere in Aalen on 09/10/1984

1984 Recovery of Diesel railcar T 33 in Amstetten
The vehicle finds shelter under a bridge of federal road 19 between Aalen and Unterkochen
1985 Founding of Härtsfeld heritage railway association (Härtsfeld-Museumsbahn e.V.) in Aalen-Unterkochen
Founding meeting on 23/01/1985 at Läuterhäusle inn with 13 members. Clemens Lüffe to become first chairman.
1985 By invitation of Neresheim's mayor Anton Hegele, the construction of the association's ground on the former railway station ground in Neresheim starts
Former attempts to reactivate the Alb climb from Aalen to Ebnat have been declined after the failed initiative of the Stuttgart tramway museum in 1982.
First pieces of track have been layed in 1985.
1985 The first issue of the publication series of the Härtsfeld heritage railway association is published: 'Härtsfeld railway - an overview on the historical developement'
Author Andreas M. Räntzsch will later publish three further books on the Härtsfeld railway.
1986 Opening of the Härtsfeld railway museum on the first floor of Neresheim station building
In presence of former Härtsfeld railway staff, opening on 22/02/1986 is live on air on public radio station SDR 4.
1986 First Neresheim Bahnhofshocketse (station festival) on 06/09/1986
Without any break always in summer, later the second weekend of August is being established.
Railway operations with departures every hour between 2002 to 2020. From 2021 with modified timetable due to extention ttowards Katzenstein.
1986 Transfer of steam loco 12 from Heidenheim to Neresheim on 30/10/1986.
Start of the functional refurbishment.
Loco 12 served as a playground loco on the Heidenheim Galgenberg from 1965, not far from the Aquarena swimming pool. The year before, a donation contract has been concluded between the city of Heidenheim, the Heidenheim newspaper and the association.
For the refurbishment of loco 12, the old wooden shed on the station ground is being rebuilt to a small loco shed with workshop. The bogie of loco 12 is being pushed inside in October 1987.
1987 Transfer of Diesel railcar T 37 from Amstetten to Neresheim on 28/05/1987
T 37 was only 27 years old and barely functional. After its arrival and a first check, it was the first vehicle, that has been moving again by its own power on the Neresheim station ground.
1990 Finalization of a financial agreement in September and launch of the plan-approval procedure in October for the Neresheim - Sägmühle line
Three-source-financing: One third is financed by the land of Baden-Württemberg from its development program rural areas (ELR), another third from the Ostalb district and the city of Neresheim and the last third by the association itself. To finance its own part, the track building block campaign is brought to live in February 1991, where one can buy a symbolic metre of the new line for 50 DM (25 €).
1990 Transfer of two former Rhaetian railways (RhB) baggage wagons from Holzgerlingen to Neresheim
In November former baggage wagons 4041 and 4042 of Rhaetian railways (RhB, CH) are transferred from Holzgerlingen, where they were parked a short time at the fashion centre Krauss. While wagon 4041 disappears again from Neresheim in 1992 and can now be found as a part of the construction train of the Öchsle (narrow gauge line Warthausen - Ochsenhausen), wagon 4042 served as an accomodation car for active members till the take over of the two track loco shed and stood right next to the wood shed. He has been sold to a private person in 2009.
1991 First day of the open loco shed door on 17/02/1991
Presentation of the track building block campaign for the line's reconstruction. In 2002, the day of the open loco shed door is being integrated in the operational season and offers catering in the loco shed on the station's exit on Christ's ascension.
1992 Successful recommissioning of Diesel rail car T 33 Refurbishment on in-house effort. First test ride on 13/04/1991, ceremonial inaugaration on 09/08/1992 as part of the Neresheim Bahnhofshocketse (station festival). Admission in 1997 at first only for building services, in 2002 also for public services just right before season opening.
1994 Presentation of the book "Schmalspurig über's Härtsfeld" ("Across the Härtsfeld by narrow gauge")
Author Andreas M. Räntzsch
1994 Successful recommissioning of steam locomotive 12 Refurbishment on in-house effort. The new boiler was manufactered by Interlok Pila (PL). Ceremonial inaugaration at the Neresheim station festival on 07.08.1994.
1994 Purchase of the Sägmühle station ground by the association
By selling the station ground, the Deutsche Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft mbH (parent company of Württembergische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft mbH, legal successor of the last operator Württembergische Nebenbahnen GmbH) sold the last piece of ground of the Aalen - Dillingen line, it still owned some 20 years after dismantling.
1995 Steam loco 11 is being removed as monument and put back on tracks of the heritage railway on 21/04/1995
The loco is displayed for two days  on 10+11/06/1995 on the Neresheim main street due to the first Neresheim city festival and is taking part in a procession in Elchingen on the 25/06/1995 on a low loader due to the 900th anniversary of the location.
1996 Construction works begin on the first line section Neresheim - Sägmühle
Plan apporval decision on 06/03/1996, groundbreaking on 16/05/1996.
Length of this construction section without Neresheim station: 2.7 km
1996 The Baden-Württemberg transport ministry grants concession for the construction and operations of the heritage railway Neresheim - Sägmühle on 20/06/1996.

1996 From October non-stop monthly construction logs on the internet on Gerald's railway pages.
Link to our section Infrastruktur aktuell
1997 First TV contribution about the Härtsfeld heritage railway in the SDR TV series Eisenbahn-Romantik (Railway romantic)
Episode 272 Nikolausdampf (First broadcast on  06/12/1997)
2000 Completion of the line Neresheim - Sägmühle.
Am 27.05.2000 wird im Umfahrgleis des Bahnhofs Sägmühle die letzte Schiene eingebaut. Am 19.09.2000 findet die erste Fahrt mit Fahrgästen im Rahmen einer Baustellenbesichtigung durch den Ausschuss für Kultur und Sport des Kreistags des Ostalbkreises statt. Der Zug besteht aus Lok 12 und Wagen 7.
On 27/05/2000, the last rail is being put in place in the turn around track of Sägmühle station.
2001 Founding of the association owned Railway Undertaking Härtsfeldbahn-Betriebs GmbH
Legal separation of operations and infrastructure due to EU regulations
2001 Ceremonial inaugaration of the Neresheim - Sägmühle section on 20/10/2001 on the 100th anniversary of the old Härtsfeld railway
Operational length 2.965 km
Operational Vehicles at the inaugaration: steam loco 12, freight wagon Ow 301, Gw 153, passenger cars 1 and 7.
Additional rides on 21+27+28/10/2001
Special report about the operational start
2001 First complete episode about the Härtsfeld heritage railway in the SWR TV series Eisenbahn-Romantik (First broadcast on 04/11/2001)
Episode 432 100 years Härtsfeld railway (German)
2002 First regular season of the heritage train
15 operational days from May 1st til the beginning of October. Diesel rail car T33 in operation from 01/05
2005 Start of the plan approval process for the Sägmühle - Katzenstein section on 11/04/2005
Length of the construction section: 2.6 km
To the prehistory of the reconstrution (German)
2005 Purchahse of the station building in Dischingen on 16/09/2005
To the history of Dischingen station (German)
2005 Transport of Diesel locomotive D4 "Jumbo" from Stansstad (CH) to Neresheim on 25/09/2005
Sponsorship from company Voith, Heidenheim
2006 First clearance works on the Sägmühle - Katzenstein section after plan approval decision on 13/03/2006
Because the initially planned retracement of a bike path was expected to be too expensive, after replanning on 03/08/2006 a "plan changement of insignificance" is being introduced and approved on 15/02/2007.
2006 First opening of Dischingen railway station to the public as part of the nation wide Day of the open monument on 10/09/2006 and establishment of a historic bus line.
The community of garden railway enthusiasts (IG Spur II) builds a spectacular layout with model vehicles and buildings from examples of the Härtsfeld railway. The connection between trains at Sägmühle station and Dischingen station is being provided through Markus Gruber with a historic bus from Konrad Auwärter, that will provide round trips across the Härtsfeld on operational days the following years. These round trips will later be taken over by Aalen based bus entrepreneur Josef Albrecht.
2007 Takeover of the loco shed Neresheim on 06/05/2007
After the line was dismantled, the loco shed was used as builder's yard by the city of Neresheim, whereby the left shed track was reconstructed in May 2001. After the takeover, the second shed track is being reconstructed and a stepwise renovation takes place (subsidised by 70 % through the EU program LEADER+).
After 22 years, activ members have access to sanitary installations after 22 years for the first time!
2007 Groundbreaking for the Sägmühle - Katzenstein section on 25/09/2007 at the Sägmühle station
Before, on 08/07/2007, the new bike path parallel to the railway line to Iggenhausen has been inaugarated as part of the "Green path Härtsfeld". The bike path used the old trace of the Härtsfeld railway, that now becomes a railway again. From 17/03/2008, first planum works take place carried out by company Leonhard Weiss.
2008 New layout of the front station area by the city of Neresheim
Errection of parking lots and caravaning lots
Errection of an extension to the former freight shed with toilets and ticket shop
Both projects have been subsidised by 70 % by the EU program LEADER+ like the renovation of the locomotive shed.
2009 First participation at the Neresheim night of lights
First "samba train" based on pleasure rides of the 50s and 60s with a rail car train accompanied by live music of the band Erpfenbrass and use of the loco shed as event location with freight wagon Ow 301 as a stage for the rock band Nemesis.
Annual participation till 2019 (in 2020, the night of lights wasn't continued due to organisational reasons)
2010 25th anniversary of the association
First and since then only steam train ride in the winter on the anniversary on 23/01/2010 through the snow covered Egau valley.
Banquet with regional politicians in the Neresheim based restaurant "Old railway station"
2010 First Santa claus rides with rail car train on 05/12/2010
Because the steam train cannot be heated, the Santa claus rides use the rail car train. Already on the first time, over 300 passengers take part, the initially planned four trips are augmented to five.
2011 Start of the functional refurbishment of steam loco 11 The monument protection demands high requests to reuse original parts and technics
2012 Installation of a historic bus line Aalen - Neresheim on the regular bus line on operational days of the heritage railway
Shuttle in the morning to the first train with connection from the 09.30 hub at the Aalen station. Due to too low demand to the historic bus trips without subsidies, the number of operational days is being reduced to selected days in 2013, the shuttle ride is totally being dispensed.
2012 Reconstruction of the Egau bridge Iggenhausen
Opposite to the Egau bridge on the first section, that remained in place, a complete new construction was necessary.
2012 Price of the monument Foundation Baden-Württemberg
Donation of 5,000 Euros
2014 Presentation of the book "The Härtsfeld railway Aalen - Neresheim - Dillingen. Planning, construction and operations." (German) on 15/11/2014.
The first shoppers may subsequently participate in a special ride with rail car T 33 with author Andreas M. Räntzsch.
2015 Narrow gauge expo at Neresheim on 03+04/10/2015
Model railway exhibition in the Härtsfeld hall
Regular train operations on both days
2015 Installation of the flood bridge near Iggenhausen on 12/11/2015
Opposite to the Egau bridge, that has been constructed out of steel, this bridge is made of preconstructed concrete parts
2016 First wine tasting ride by Wiedemann company

2017 Takeover of 1.2 km three rail track of the Stuttgart tramway
"Waste material" of railway project Stuttgart21: construction material from a dismantled Stuttgart subway tunnel, three rail yokes are being transported to Neresheim, that are dissambled and refurbished the following years
2017 Second complete episode about the Härtsfeld heritage railway in the SWR TV series Eisenbahn-Romantik (First broadcast on 25/11/2017)
Episode 917 Härtsfeld heritage railway (German)
2018 A two-way truck, designed for the export to South Africa, makes test runs on the Härtsfeld heritage railway
From Februar 24 to March 7, a two-way truck designed for export to South Africa based on an ISUZU standard truck by company "ZWEIWEG International Gmbh & Co. KG" makes test runs on the 1.5 km section Steinmühle - Sägmühle. The drive unit is being tested to accelerate to 60 km/h and continue in stare ride. The vehicle covers over 700 km in the Egau valley.
2019 Starting from autumn: supply of the station ground of Katzenstein
By large parts in own contribution being supoorted by local small businesses
2020 The first construction train arrives at Katzenstein station
Rail car T 33 brings the trolley unit with rails for the constrution side on 28/04/2020 on the to be station area.
Topping out ceremony of the waiting hall on 11/07/2020
Late season opening due to the Corona pandemic
The worldwide Corona pandemic requires the cancellation of the traditional season opening on the 1st of May and the following operational days till the end of June. On the resting seven days from the beginning of July, 2,300 passengers are being transported compared to 6,700 the year before. The traditonal station festival Bahnhofshocketse has to take place without catering by the association for the first time. On the train, there are hygiene rules and passengers must leave contact data to trace infection ways. The Härtsfeld railway museum on the first floor of the Neresheim station building must remain closed because it can't provide enough distance between visitors.
Inaugaration of Sägmühle - Katzenstein section on 01/08/2021
Operational length: 2.6 km
Due to the Corona pandemic and a short-term postponement of the inaugaration by one month due to remained works, inaugaration takes place without a big ceremony. Nevertheless, passenger demand is unbroken and trains on every operational day in 2021 are very well occupied, so that at the end of the shorted season 3,800 passengers could be counted.
Picture gallery about the inaugaration