The "Deutsche Fährstraße"
and its Transporter Bridges

Aus dem Referat von Prof. Frank Norbert Nagel
(Hamburg) auf der 5th Canadian River Heritage
Conference, Winnipeg, 2007

The touristic German Ferry-Road starts in Bremervörde, Lower Saxony and ends up in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein. It links the river Oste to the River Elbe then follows the Kiel�Canal from Brunsbüttel to the Baltic (Kiel). This road was created, and is promoted, by several private societies in order to highlight the many ferries crossing this line-up of waterways which normally do not have a great coherence. The Oste is a smaller river for national smaller ships, the Elbe an international important seaway as it is the case with the internationally-renowned Kiel-Canal. The main focus is on the two transporter bridges, one in Hemmoor / Oste and the other one in Rendsburg / Kiel-Kanal, which is suspended underneath a railway viaduct. When a new bridge over the river Oste was built in 1974 and tall ships did no longer sail on the river Oste, there was no more need for such an elevated steel construction, so the old transporter bridge should have been torn down To save the important structure (80 m wide, over 30 m high), which was built by Louis Pinette, a scholar of Gustave Eiffel in 1909, a private society (�Fördergesellschaft zur Erhaltung der Schwebefähre Osten e.V.�) was founded in 1975.

More recently a set of new societies have completed in order to highlight the whole region and the waterway line in its entire length of 250 km, containing 50 technical monuments like bridges, locks and ferries, thus showing all the different possibilities of crossing a waterway.

The AG Osteland e.V., established in 2004, has a very interesting homepage and a newsletter, highlights the touristic marketing and invented the logo �Fährienstraße�. It managed to interest the Austrian Post Office in producing a special stamp on the Transporter Bridge of Oste-Hemmor. The next aim is to have a German stamp for the centennial of the monument in 2009. Some other of this type of ferry-bridge had already their turn as they are, Rochefort (france), Portugalete (Spain) and Rendsburg (Germany).

They adopted as well the clever word play of �Fähre� (ferry) and �Ferien� (holidays). So they helped proclaiming the �Deutsche Fährienstraße� which in its double-meaning makes publicity with a smile.

In 2007 a new institution has emerged specifically to save one of the smaller ferries in the Oste-Region, in Brobergen (�Fähr-und Geschichtsverein Brobergen�). The president of this society, Corinna Kolff, is preparing a doctorate in Geography on then subject of �Deutsche Fährstraße�. Smaller ferries such as in Brobergen are not electrified, so qualified employees are important and difficult to find once the older ferrymen retire. So the twin aims of this new society are to care for the continuing working of the ferry and the historical reconstruction of the landscape. At the site of the Brobergen ferryman�s present home an archaeological survey has attested a former castle. So another aim is to reconstruct the castle and some other historic buildings in Brombergen.

Another circle or subdivision in the AG Osteland cares for the cultural entertainment of tourists and locals. It looks for detective stories with a regional touch and presents them in inns, ferrymen-houses and other locations on the border of the Waterway . For that they have created the logo �Krimiland�.

Of course there is another subdivision , built up in 2006, only caring for the Transporter bridge. This type of monument got worldwide attention when one of the last seven specimens in the world became a UNESCO world heritage : Portugalete at the mouth of The Ria de Bilbao (Spain). The Spanish King Juan Carlos promised at the heritage ceremonial in 2006 to take care that the other � ferries� should be inscribed on the heritage list as sort of �annexes�, which seems intended to reduce new nominations and improve the chance of adding other monuments of the same type in other countries.

With the �ILEK Kehdingen-Oste� (Integrated Concept of Rural Development) the whole region between the Oste and the Elbe is successfully on the search for an instrument on the development of a peripheral region and money from different sources.

The second transporter bridge on the Deutsche Fährstraße is in Schleswig-Holstein, on the Kiel-Canal at Rendsburg . It was opened in 1913 and was built by the German Dr. Friedrich Voß. The viaduct itself has a length of 2.486 m and the actual canal-bridge is 313 m wide.

The overall hight is 68 m, although the height for sea-going ships to pass underneath is only 42 m. The toll-free ferry ( as by law for all artificial waterways, not the Oste - ferry!) is suspended over the Kiel-Kanal beneath this amazingly high and winding railway-viaduct! So this monument incorporates two different means of transport and so is not regarded by �purists� as �a real � transporter bridge, but never mind...

The Rendsburg � Osterrönfeld viaduct and ferry became necessary with the first widening of the Kiel-Canal in 1914 when the railway, until then crossing the smaller canal (of 1895) on a normal bridge had to wind up in an artificial serpentine in order to manage the steep gradient.

Together with that, the engineering task was to search the best emplacement for a railway station serving the town of Rendsburg and that was found high up on the viaduct. Otherwise it would have been too far out of town. The whole serpentine railway construction is 7,5 km long All this together makes the suspended transport ferry and the railway crossing a very remarkable and outstanding monument of engineering. It had a postage stamp on its own as well.

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