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River Rhein, Germany


Paddle Steamer Mainz of 1929 was the last of its kind built for service on the Rhine and the last major paddler for use in continental Europe outside of the Soviet Union along with Stadt Uberlingen on Lake Constance, both built by the Christof Ruthof yard at Mainz-Kastel. Seen in 1987 in Mannheim and moored statically as a museum ship she was restored to approximate her original appearance.


Today's dominating Rhein excursion ship operator KD Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt GmbH retains paddle ship Goethe in its fleet albeit now as a diesel-hydraulic vessel

The KD can trace its history back to 1853 when two earlier companies, the Preussisch-Rheinischen Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft (PRDG), the "Koln" company and the Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft fur den Nieder- und Mittelrhein (DGNM), the "Dusseldorf" company, merged at a time of intense competition and the in response to the loss of much of the freight and passenger traffic along the Rhine following the expansion of the railways along its banks.

Despite the merger, the two companies, which were established in 1826 and 1836 respectively, maintained semi-independent operations ordering their own vessels which were known as "Koln" or "Dusseldorf" boats. Although other companies operated vessels during this period, especially in the more northerly and southerly stretches of the river, the KD came to dominate and absorb the competitors, such as the Mulheim Company (MDAG), with the exception of the Dutch Steamboat Company (NSM/NSR), which traced its inception back to 1823, when steam was first intoduced for passenger and goods transport. From 1927, Dutch and German services were run in cooperation and there was some interchange in vessel ownership.

The first trials of a steamboat on the Rhein were in 1816, when the new form of propulsion was demonstrated by English interests, and the link was developed when the DGNM was established with links to the General Steam Navigation Company, with a view to establishing services down the Rhein from the U.K.

Other local operators



Although the KD and its antecedents dominated services on the river with their enormous paddle steamers, more localised services were also available with smaller operators. The vessel above was built in 1902 by Gebruder Sachsenberg at Cologne (Koln-Deutz) as Stadt Bonn for an operator based at Mondorf near Bonn and from 1923 sailed as Kreis Moers (as seen above in a post card view) when she moved to new owners based at Moers near Duisburg. She was later named Maintal and Kurfurst Ruprecht and sailed out of Heidelberg and Neckargemund.


HISTORICAL PADDLE STEAMERS : KD and antecedents




Vaterland (above) was the second last paddler built for German operators and survived until 1978. She is seen here in September 1967.
Many thanks to Heidi for use of her photograph


List of PRDG, DGNM and "Dutch" paddlers built from 1880 onwards.
Eduard Bundgen (see bibliography below), lists "Siegfried" as vessel 64 in the chronological list of Rhine steamers, indicating the scale of the fleets and the constant introduction of new tonnage.
Click on any link on the vessel name below for more information/photos

Vessel name - Date built - original operators - length in metres - withdrawal date (Rhein service) - Historical notes.


 - Mainz1929  - Survives as museum ship in Mannheim

Juliana

1928

Dutch

79.00

1944

Sunk in 1944 as blockade ship at Ijmuiden

Vaterland

1926

PRDG

79.03

1972

Scrapped 1978  :

 - Rheinland (later Rudesheim)1926  - Remains in service as De Majesteit
Hindenburg1916PRDG77.801968Renamed Frieden in 1946 after reconstruction. Burnt out in Cologne Rheinauhafen in 1968

Bismarck

1914

DGNM

78.00

1974

Scrapped 1978

 - Goethe1913  - Remains in service with KD but now with diesel-hydraulic drive

Kaiser Wilhelm II

1912

DGNM

82.00

1959

 

Bluecher

1912

PRDG

84.30

1944

Sunk by bombing at Koln -14/10/44 - Scrapped 1946

Cecilie

1910

PRDG

77.80

1974

Sunk 1945. Rebuilt 1950. In reserve from 1967. Scrapped 1983

Loreley

1908

DGNM

73.00

1945

Rebuilt and renamed "Ostmark" in 1931

Prins-Hendrik

1907

Dutch

81.72

1955

 

Stadt Dusseldorf

1907

MDAG

60.25

1944

To KD in 1925. Sunk 22/4/44

Ernst Ludwig

1906

DGNM

75.50

1963

Scrapped 1964

Albertus Magnus

1906

MDAG

57.00

1936

To KD as "Markgraf" in 1925. Sold 1936. Scrap 1960

Schiller

1905

PRDG

72.30

1944

Lost to bombing 18/12/44. Scrapped 1946

Elberfeld

1905

DGNM

73.00

1967

 

Barbarossa

1903

PRDG

76.00

1970

In reserve from 1963

Rheingold

1902

DGNM

73.00

1966

Scrapped 1967

Parcival

1902

DGNM

73.00

1945

Sold to Dutch (1930), bought back (1935) as "Stahleck"

Neptun

1901

PRDG

71.00

1943

Sold 1929 to Dutch as "De Nederlander"

Gutenberg

1900

DGNM

73.00

1929

Sold to Dutch. Survived until 1945

Borussia

1899

PRDG

85.85

1921

Sold for use as tug. Scrapped 1934

Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria

1899

DGNM

85.85

1921

Sold. Bombed and sunk in 1945

Rotterdam

1898

Dutch

 

1954

 

Kaiserin Friedrich

1897

PRDG

68.50

1944

Bombed and sunk at Ludwigshafen on 13/9/44

Deutschland

1896

DGNM

72.5

1946

To Dutch in 1929 as "De Rijn"

Stadt Koln

1896

MDAG

52.00

1925

KD 1925, Lauenburg/Elbe (1925-57), Holland (1957-63) Burnt out

Hollandia

1894

Dutch

72.62

1955

 

Elsa

1894

PRDG

71.60

1932

Sold for use as Restaurant. Burnt out in 1945

Undine

1894

PRDG

67.75

1929

Sold to Dutch, renamed"Stolzenfels" (1929). Sunk 15/3/45

Stolzenfels

1892

PRDG

77.50

1929

Sold to Dutch, renamed "Amicitia" (1929). Sunk 31/5/42.

Arnold Walpod

1892

DGNM

71.60

1929

Sold to Dutch. Out of service from 1933

Willem III

1891

Dutch

72.50

1954

 

Wilhelmina

1890

Dutch

73.00

1954

Renamed "Willem" in 1950

Overstolz

1890

PRDG

68.00

1941

Bombed and sunk 1/3/41

Lohengrin

1890

PRDG

68.00

1938

 

Frauenlob

1890

DGNM

68.60

1956

Scrapped 1960

Emma

1889

Dutch

73.00

1936

 

Drachenfels

1888

DGNM

68.60

1960

Scrapped 1963

Rhein

1888

PRDG

67.00

1924

Sold to Hamburg intersts as "Hamburg II". Scrap 1948

Hansa

1886

PRDG

67.00

1924

Sold 1924 for in use as restaurant -now derelict

Niederwald

1886

DGNM

67.00

1930

Sold for use as a house - boat

Hohenstaufen

1884

PRDG

61.25

1920

Sold but not used again - scrapped 1936

Bismarck

1883

DGNM

67.00

1951

Renamed Freiherr vom Stein (1914), Westmark (1931)

Moltke

1882

PRDG

70.50

1928

Resold for further use. Lost through bombing in 1945

Willem I

1881

Dutch

71.00

1936

Survived as Restaurant ship

Chriemhilde

1880

Dutch

71.00

1945

Scuttled 1945 and later scrapped

Siegfried

1880

Dutch

71.00

1936

House boat and restaurant. Bombed & sunk in 1944




PADDLERS STILL IN EXISTENCE

PS Mainz   1929-1980 :  Museum ship at Mannheim

Above : PS Mainz, spent her latter years in service sporting the KD's "nostalgia" livery, but it was not until she was sold out of the fleet for use as a museum that she reverted to a more traditional appearance


PS Rudesheim (ex-Rheinland)   1926-1981 :  Still in service in the Netherlands as de Majesteit


Above : De Majesteit at her current home base close to the centre of Rotterdam in the Netherlands - seen in 2014


MPV Goethe  :  1913-date : Normally running between Koblenz and Rudesheim


Above : When Goethe returned to operational service for KD in 1996, she was extensively modernised, but with traditional-style internal fittings and outward appearance and sailed in only for 12 more years

.... one more hull remained for many years


Above : The remains of paddle steamer Hansa at Cologne on 15th November 2005. Photo by kind courtesy of Olivier Bachmann




PRESERVED ENGINES

Seraing / Germania (1841) at the Deutsches Museum, Munich
Goethe (1913)  in storage at the Koelnisches Stadtmuseum, Cologne


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Die Personenschiffahrt auf dem Rhein : Vom Schaufelraddampfer zum Kabinenschiff
Eduard Bundgen
1987
ISBN : 3-88255-501-7
EK-Verlag, Postfach 5560, 7800 Freiburg, Germany
The definitive 444 page history, highly illustrated with old black and white photos and vitually every available fact about the vessels.

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