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Lake Thun, Switzerland
Services along Lake Thun from Thun to Interlaken-West have been operated since 1913 by BLS, the Bern-Lotschberg-Simplon Railway, which operates local and regional railway services. The lake's paddle steamer, Blumlisalp dates from 1906. After withdrawal in 1971 it seemed that the era of the paddler had come to an end on Lake Thun. An unprecedented preservation and, ultimately, restoration project by enthusiasts with significant public support, saw Blumlisalp reenter service in 1992. She was owned by preservationists but operated by her original owners until being vested in the BLS once more in advance of the 2013 season. Unusually, in comparison with Lake Geneva for example, the 2005/6 renovation was paid for by the preservationist group with finanial support from the BLS.

Blumlisalp  (1906)
Paddle Steamer Blumlisalp

Above : Blumlisalp at Interlaken West in 2016.  

Built by Escher-Wyss at Zurich and assembled locally at Thun
Entered service in 1906
Length : 62.7 metres - breadth 6.8 / 13.1 m
Engines : Compound Diagonal : 67 and 115 cm x 115 cm (approx 26.4 and 45.3 in x 45.3 in ) 600 HP
Originally - two boilers, coal fired. Reboilered in 1988/92 restoration and now oil fired

Maiden voyage on 1st August 1906 curtailed within minutes due to a steering issue 
Took up service on 16th August 1906
Laid up in 1915 and 1917-1922 due to poor passenger numbers (and relatively high fuel consumption compared to smaller units in the fleet)
From 1923 onwards, Blumlisalp was used sparingly, generally only on summer Sundays, for the same reason
A major renovation including reboilering became essential by the later 1960s, but the cost was judged prohibitive and only a partial renovation took place in 1966
In expectation of her impending withdrawal, the "Pro Dampf" group was formed to campaign for her retention
In service on 4th June 1971 when she met her replacement, MV Blumlisalp which was making her maiden voyage, but then laid up
After one more charter excursion, PS Blumlisalp made her final outing on 1st August, Swiss National Day
Towed to a lay-up at Baggerloch in the Kander Delta near Gwatt on 15th May, 1975
Ownership transferred to the newly-established "Vaporama" Swiss Steam Engine Museum Society on the basis that she would form the centrepiece of a museum
Restoration started after the vessel was taken out of the water in late 1988 following the construction of a cofferdam
Reappeared in 1992 after substantial rebuilding including lengthening by about 8 feet and operated by the BLS on behalf of the Vaporama society
Although integrated into the regular timetable, a modest "steamer supplement" was initially added to the price of tickets when sailing on Blumlisalp
Underwent her first renovation in the winter of 2005/06 funded by the Vaporama Society with a contribution from the BLS.
In December 2012 the ownership of the vessel was transferred back to the BLS by the Vaporama organisation

2005/06 Renovation :
Improvement catering facilities
 - increased capacity at entrance to main deck restaurant (removing a well-known eyesore greeting passengers on embarcation)
 - cafe/ bar facilities on the main deck forward to improve 2nd class facilities
 - improved serving area on upper deck with additional seating space
 - new furniture in the lounges in the original style
 - replaced and extended glazing on the upper deck to give appearance of original open upper deck
 - complete replacement of deck planking
 - new wheelhouse in the ship's original style
 - new light fittings in "period" style 
 - miscellaneous technical improvements perticularly with respect to new safety legislation and to restoring previously-lost historical detail 

Blumlisalp at Oberhofen.jpg
PS Blumlisalp pulls into Oberhofen pier in 2001


Gordon Stewart has made many photos of, on board and from paddle steamer Blumlisalp

Crowds line up to return to Thun from Spiez in 2001 

View towards Spiez, and the Niesen mountain, from the Upper Deck

The enclosed cafe on the upper deck also affords good visibility 

Click here to go to the Photograph Archive


Click here for representative views on Lake Thun between Thun and Interlaken
.Blumlisalp Faulensee O Bachmann.jpg
Above : Blumlisalp at Faulensee by kind courtesy of Olivier Bachmann

 Blumlisalp at Interlaken-West. Photo by kind courtesy of Phil Barnes.  For more of Phil's photos, click here
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Lake Thun - Paddle Steamers of the past

Die Geschichte der Schiffahrt auf dem Thuner- und Brienzersee
By Erich Liechti, Jurg Meister and Josef Gwerder
Published in 1986 by Ott Verlag, Thun
ISBN 3-7225-6334-8
Ship-by-ship chronologies, copiously illustrated and including line diagrams of vessel layouts.

Das Salondampfschiff Blumlisalp....eine Legende
By Erich Liechti
Published in 1993 by Ott Verlag, Thun
ISBN 3-7225-6887-0
The amazing story of Lake Thun's only large paddler, her demise, eventual renewal and return to service

Blumlisalp - Die Rettung des letzten Thunersee-Raddampfers
By Peter Creola, of the Vaporama Society
Published in 1992 by Fischer Druck AG, 3110 Munsingen-Bern
ISBN 3-85681-280-6
Detailed story of the campaign to save the Blumlisalp, the restoration itself and her return to steam in 1992.

Brief details of the vessels can be found in the following more general Swiss steamer guides:
Dampfschiffe Schweiz
Anton Raber and Peter Horlacher
Verlag Dampferzeitung, Luzern, Switzerland
Brief detals in four languages including English

Paddle Steamers of the Alps
Leslie Brown and Joe McKendrick
Ferry Publications
ISBN 1-871947-19-7
Illustrated profiles of the steamers and operating areas

Schiffahrt auf den Schweizer Seen
Anton Raber
Orell Fussli Verlag, Zurich
ISBN 3-280-00285-0
Illustrated round up of Swiss lake vessels, with fleet lists and sections on vessel design and engineering.

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Lake Thun - Paddle Steamers of the past