origin: Proto-Indo-European root
("to move, flow, run")
|Countries||Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, France, Netherlands|
|Rhine Basin||Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium|
|- location||Tomasee ("Lai da Tuma"), Surselva, Graubünden, Switzerland|
|- elevation||7,693 ft (2,345 m)|
|- location||Paradies Glacier, Graubünden, Switzerland|
|- elevation||8,200 ft (2,499 m)|
|- location||Tamins, Graubünden, Switzerland|
|- elevation||1,955 ft (596 m)|
|- location||Hoek van Holland, Rotterdam, Netherlands|
|- elevation||0 ft (0 m)|
|Length||820 mi (1,320 km)|
|Basin||65,638 sq mi (170,002 km2)|
|- average||77,692 cu ft/s (2,200 m3/s)|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Name||Upper Middle Rhine Valley|
|Region||Europe and North America|
The Rhine is one of the most important rivers in Europe.
|Wikimedia Commons: Rhine|
The Rhine (German: Rhein; Dutch: Rijn; French: Rhin; Romansh: Rain; Italian: Reno; Latin: Rhenus West Frisian Ryn) is one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe, at 1,320 km (820 mi), with an average discharge of more than 2,000 m3/s (71,000 cu ft/s).
The name of the Rhine derives from Gaulish Renos, and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *reie- ("to move, flow, run"), which is also the root of words like river and run. The Reno River in Italy shares the same etymology. The spelling with -h- seems to be borrowed from the Greek form of the name, Rhenos, seen also in rheos, stream, and rhein, to flow.
The Rhine and the Danube formed most of the northern inland frontier of the Roman Empire and, since those days, the Rhine has been a vital, navigable waterway, and carried trade and goods deep inland. It has also served as a defensive feature and has been the basis for regional and international borders. The many castles and prehistoric fortifications along the Rhine testify to its importance as a waterway. River traffic could be stopped at these locations, usually for the purpose of collecting tolls, by the state that controlled that portion of the river.
The Rhine originates at the confluence of the Vorderrhein and Hinterrhein, near Reichenau, Switzerland.
From Reichenau, the Rhine flows north as the Alpenrhein, passes Chur, and forms the border between Liechtenstein and then Austria, on the east side and Canton of St. Gallen of Switzerland, on the west side; then empties into Lake Constance. It emerges from Lake Constance, flows generally westward, as the Hochrhein, passes the Rhine Falls, and is joined by the river Aar. The Aar more than doubles the Rhine's water discharge, to an average of nearly 1,000 m3/s (35,000 cu ft/s). The Aar also contains the waters from the 4,274 m (14,020 ft) summit of Finsteraarhorn, the highest point of the Rhine basin. The Rhine roughly forms the boundary with Germany from Lake Constance, until it turns north at the so-called Rhine knee at Basel.
The Rhine is the longest river in Germany. It is here that the Rhine encounters some of its main tributaries, such as the Neckar, the Main and, later, the Moselle, which contributes an average discharge of more than 300 m3/s (11,000 cu ft/s). Northeastern France drains to the Rhine via the Moselle; smaller rivers drain the Vosges and Jura Mountains, uplands. Most of Luxembourg and a very small part of Belgium also drain to the Rhine via the Moselle. It approaches the Dutch border and the Rhine has an annual mean discharge of 2,290 m3/s (81,000 cu ft/s) and an average width of 400 m (1,300 ft).
Between Bingen and Bonn, the Middle Rhine flows through the Rhine Gorge, a formation which was created by erosion, which happened at about the same rate as an uplift in the region, which left the river at about its original level and the surrounding lands raised. This gorge is quite deep and is the stretch of the river which is known for its many castles and vineyards. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2002) and known as "the Romantic Rhine", with more than 40 castles and fortresses from the Middle Ages and many quaint and lovely country villages.
Until the early 1980s, industry was a major source of water pollution. Although many plants and factories can be found along the Rhine up into Switzerland, it is along the Lower Rhine in the Ruhr Area, that the bulk of them are concentrated, as the river passes the major cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Duisburg. Duisburg is the home of Europe's largest inland port and functions as a hub to the sea ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Amsterdam. The Ruhr, which joins the Rhine in Duisburg, is nowadays a clean river, thanks to a combination of stricter environmental controls, a transition, from heavy industry to light industry and cleanup measures, such as the reforestation of slag heaps and brownfields. The Ruhr currently provides the region with drinking water. It contributes 70 m3/s (2,500 cu ft/s) to the Rhine. Other rivers in the Ruhr Area, above all, the Emscher, still carry a considerable degree of pollution.
The Rhine turns west and enters the Netherlands, where, together with the rivers Meuse and Scheldt, it forms the extensive Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta, one of the larger river deltas in western Europe. Crossing the border into the Netherlands at Spijk, close to Nijmegen and Arnhem, the Rhine is at its widest, although the river then splits into three main distributaries: the Waal River, Nederrijn ("Lower Rhine") and IJssel.
From here, the situation becomes more complicated, as the Dutch name Rijn, no longer coincides with the main flow of water. Two-thirds of the Rhine water flows farther west, through the Waal and then, via the Merwede and Nieuwe Merwede (De Biesbosch), merging with the Meuse, through the Hollands Diep and Haringvliet estuaries, into the North Sea. The Beneden Merwede branches off, near Hardinxveld-Giessendam and continues as the Noord, to join the Lek, near the village of Kinderdijk, to form the Nieuwe Maas; then flows past Rotterdam and continues via Het Scheur and the Nieuwe Waterweg, to the North Sea. The Oude Maas branches off, near Dordrecht, farther down rejoining the Nieuwe Maas to form Het Scheur.
The other third portion of the water flows through the Pannerdens Kanaal and redistributes in the IJssel and Nederrijn. The IJssel branch carries one ninth of the water volume north, into the IJsselmeer (a former bay), while the Nederrijn flows west, parallel to the Waal and carries approximately two ninths of the flow. However, at Wijk bij Duurstede, the Nederrijn changes its name and becomes the Lek. It flows farther west, to rejoin the Noord River into the Nieuwe Maas and to the North Sea.
The name Rijn, from here on, is used only for smaller streams farther to the north, which together once formed the main river Rhine in Roman times. Though they retained the name, these streams do not carry water from the Rhine anymore, but are used for draining the surrounding land and polders. From Wijk bij Duurstede, the old north branch of the Rhine is called Kromme Rijn ("Bent Rhine") past Utrecht, first Leidse Rijn ("Rhine of Leiden") and then, Oude Rijn ("Old Rhine"). The latter flows west into a sluice at Katwijk, where its waters can be discharged into the North Sea. This branch once formed the line along which the Limes Germanicus were built. During periods of lower sea levels within the various ice ages, the Rhine took a left turn, creating the Channel River, the course of which now lies below the English Channel.
Basel, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Neuss, Krefeld, Duisburg, Arnhem (Nederrijn), Nijmegen (Waal), Utrecht (Kromme Rijn) and Rotterdam (Nieuwe Maas).
Chur, Konstanz, Schaffhausen, Breisach, Speyer, Worms, Bingen am Rhein, Rüdesheim am Rhein, Neuwied, Andernach, Bad Honnef, Königswinter, Niederkassel, Wesseling, Dormagen, Zons, Monheim am Rhein, Wesel, Xanten, Emmerich am Rhein, Zutphen (IJssel), Deventer (IJssel), Zwolle (IJssel) and Kampen (IJssel).
The bridges at Huningue, Rastatt, Rüdesheim (Hindenburgbrücke) and Remagen (Ludendorffbrücke), were built for strategic military reasons only, in order to allow the Imperial German Army and later on, the Wehrmacht, to quickly transport forces by rail to Germany's western border in the event of a war with France. Unlike other bridges built for the same purpose, such as the ones at Koblenz or Cologne, these bridges were of almost no use in peacetime and thus, were never rebuilt, after their destruction during the last months of World War II, except for the one at Rastatt, which was used to supply units of the French Army stationed in the area.
Tributaries from source to mouth:
Order: panning North to South through the Western Netherlands:
Order: upstream to downstream:
In southern Europe, the stage was set in the Triassic Period of the Mesozoic Era, with the opening of the Tethys Ocean, between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, between about 240 MBP and 220 MBP (million years before present). The present Mediterranean Sea descends from this somewhat larger Tethys sea. At about 180 MBP, in the Jurassic Period, the two plates reversed direction and began to compress the Tethys floor, causing it to be subducted under Eurasia and pushing up the edge of the latter plate in the Alpine Orogeny of the Oligocene and Miocene Periods. Several microplates were caught in the squeeze and rotated or were pushed laterally, generating the individual features of Mediterranean geography: Iberia pushed up the Pyrenees; Italy, the Alps, and Anatolia, moving west, the mountains of Greece and the islands. The compression and orogeny continue today, as shown by the ongoing raising of the mountains a small amount each year and the active volcanoes.
In northern Europe, the North Sea Basin had formed during the Triassic and Jurassic periods and continued to be a sediment receiving basin since. In between the zone of Alpine orogeny and North Sea Basin subsidence, remained highlands resulting from an earlier orogeny (Variscan), such as the Ardennes, Eifel and Vosges.
From the Eocene onwards, the ongoing Alpine orogeny caused a N-S rift system to develop in this zone. The main elements of this rift are the Upper Rhine Graben, in southwest Germany and eastern France and the Lower Rhine Embayment, in northwest Germany and the southeastern Netherlands. By the time of the Miocene, a river system had developed in the Upper Rhine Graben, that continued northward and is considered the first Rhine river. At that time, it did not yet carry discharge from the Alps; instead, the watersheds of the Rhone and Danube drained the northern flanks of the Alps.
The watershed of the Rhine reaches into the Alps today, but it did not start out that way. In the Miocene period, the watershed of the Rhine reached south, only to the Eifel and Westerwald hills, about 450 km (280 mi) north of the Alps. The Rhine then had the Sieg as a tributary, but not yet the Moselle River. The northern Alps were then drained by the Danube.
Through stream capture, the Rhine extended its watershed southward. By the Pliocene period, the Rhine had captured streams down to the Vosges Mountains, including the Mosel, the Main and the Neckar. The northern Alps were then drained by the Rhone. By the early Pleistocene period, the Rhine had captured most of its current Alpine watershed from the Rhône, including the Aar. Since that time, the Rhine has added the watershed above Lake Constance (Vorderrhein, Hinterrhein River, Alpenrhein; captured from the Rhône), the upper reaches of the Main, beyond Schweinfurt and the Vosges Mountains, captured from the Meuse River, to its watershed.
Around 2.5 million years ago (ending 11,600 years ago) was the geological period of the Ice Ages. Since approximately 600,000 years ago, six major Ice Ages have occurred, in which sea level dropped 120 m (390 ft) and much of the continental margins became exposed. In the Early Pleistocene, the Rhine followed a course to the northwest, through the present North Sea. During the so-called Anglian glaciation (~450,000 yr BP, marine oxygen isotope stage 12), the northern part of the present North Sea was blocked by the ice and a large lake developed, that overflowed through the English Channel. This caused the Rhine's course to be diverted through the English Channel. Since then, during glacial times, the river mouth was located offshore of Brest, France and rivers, like the Thames and the Seine, became tributaries to the Rhine. During interglacials, when sea level rose to approximately the present level, the Rhine built deltas, in what is now the Netherlands.
The last glacial ran from ~74,000 (BP = Before Present), until the end of the Pleistocene (~11,600 BP). In northwest Europe, it saw two very cold phases, peaking around 70,000 BP and around 29,000–24,000 BP. The last phase slightly predates the global last ice age maximum (Last Glacial Maximum). During this time, the lower Rhine flowed roughly west through the Netherlands and extended to the southwest, through the English Channel and finally, to the Atlantic Ocean. The English Channel, the Irish Channel and most of the North Sea were dry land, mainly because sea level was approximately 120 m (390 ft) lower than today.
Most of the Rhine's current course was not under the ice during the last Ice Age; although, its source must still have been a glacier. A tundra, with Ice Age flora and fauna, stretched across middle Europe, from Asia to the Atlantic Ocean. Such was the case during the Last Glacial Maximum, ca. 22,000–14,000 yr BP, when ice-sheets covered Scandinavia, the Baltics, Scotland and the Alps, but left the space between as open tundra. The loess or wind-blown dust over that tundra, settled in and around the Rhine Valley, contributing to its current agricultural usefulness.
As northwest Europe slowly began to warm up from 22,000 years ago onward, frozen subsoil and expanded alpine glaciers began to thaw and fall-winter snow covers melted in spring. Much of the discharge was routed to the Rhine and its downstream extension. Rapid warming and changes of vegetation, to open forest, began about 13,000 BP. By 9000 BP, Europe was fully forested. With globally shrinking ice-cover, ocean water levels rose and the English Channel and North Sea re-inundated. Meltwater, adding to the ocean and land subsidence, drowned the former coasts of Europe transgressionally.
About 11000 yr ago, the Rhine estuary was in the Dover Strait. There remained some dry land in the southern North Sea, connecting mainland Europe to Britain. About 9000 yr ago, that last divide was overtopped / dissected. These events were well within the residence of man.
Since 7500 yr ago, a situation with tides and currents, very similar to present has existed. Rates of sea-level rise had dropped so far, that natural sedimentation by the Rhine and coastal processes together, could compensate the transgression by the sea; in the last 7000 years, the coast line was roughly at the same location. In the southern North Sea, due to ongoing tectonic subsidence, the sea-level is still rising, at the rate of about 1–3 cm (0.39–1.2 in) per century (1 metre or 39 inches in last 3000 years).
About 7000-5000 BP, a general warming encouraged migration up the Danube and down the Rhine, by peoples to the east, perhaps encouraged by the sudden massive expansion of the Black Sea, as the Mediterranean Sea burst into it through the Bosporus, about 7500 BP.
At the begin of the Holocene (~11,700 years ago), the Rhine occupied its Late-Glacial valley. As a meandering river, it reworked its ice-age braidplain. As sea-level continued to rise in the Netherlands, the formation of the Holocene Rhine-Meuse delta began (~8,000 years ago). Coeval absolute sea-level rise and tectonic subsidence have strongly influenced delta evolution. Other factors of importance to the shape of the delta are the local tectonic activities of the Peel Boundary Fault, the substrate and geomorphology, as inherited from the Last Glacial and the coastal-marine dynamics, such as barrier and tidal inlet formations.
Since ~3000 yr BP (= years Before Present), human impact is seen in the delta. As a result of increasing land clearance (Bronze Age agriculture), in the upland areas (central Germany), the sediment load of the Rhine River has strongly increased and delta growth has sped up. This caused increased flooding and sedimentation, ending peat formation in the delta. The shifting of river channels to new locations, on the floodplain (termed avulsion), was the main process distributing sediment across the subrecent delta. Over the past 6000 years, approximately 80 avulsions have occurred. Direct human impact in the delta started with peat mining, for salt and fuel, from Roman times onward. This was followed by embankment, of the major distributaries and damming of minor distributaries, which took place in the 11–13th century AD. Thereafter, canals were dug, bends were short cut and groynes were built, to prevent the river's channels from migrating or silting up.
At present, the branches Waal and Nederrijn-Lek discharge to the North Sea, through the former Meuse estuary, near Rotterdam. The river IJssel branch flows to the north and enters the IJsselmeer, formerly the Zuider Zee brackish lagoon; however, since 1932, a freshwater lake. The discharge of the Rhine is divided among three branches: the River Waal (6/9 of total discharge), the River Nederrijn - Lek (2/9 of total discharge) and the River IJssel (1/9 of total discharge). This discharge distribution has been maintained since 1709, by river engineering works, including the digging of the Pannerdens canal and since the 20th century, with the help of weirs in the Nederrijn river.
During the Middle Paleolithic (ca 100,000–30,000 BP), Western Europe, including the Rhine and Danube Valleys, was occupied by the Neanderthal, to which belonged the Mousterian culture of stone tools. Mousterian sites are not considered intrusive. It is believed that the Neanderthals may have evolved from the preceding Homo erectus in the vicinity of the glaciers, but the question has by no means been settled definitively.
Neanderthal sites are denser to the south, where open forest prevailed and the limestone terrain offered more caves as dwellings. The Rhine ran through an open tundra, where Neanderthals hunted big game, such as the rhinoceros and the woolly mammoth. Accordingly, open air Mousterian sites have been discovered in and around the Rhine valley.
Before approximately 5600 BC, the Rhine Valley, along with most of Europe, was occupied by Cro-Magnon man, in the Mesolithic stage of cultural development; that is, they hunted and gathered, but owned a larger and more specialized tool kit than the Paleolithic people, knew more about the plants and animals, and even may have kept a few animals.
During the early Iron Age, both banks of the Rhine were inhabited by Celtic tribes. However, in the beginning of the Pre-Roman Iron Age (ca 600 BC), the Proto-Germanic tribes crossed the Weser River and the Aller, expanding the whole distance to the banks of the Rhine. This expansion is shown archaeologically in the form of the Jastorf culture. From ca 500 BC onwards, the lower Rhine, not the Weser or the Aller, would increasingly mark the border between the Celtic and Germanic tribes.
The human history of the Rhine begins with the writers of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. Nearly all the classical sources mention the Rhine and the name is always the same: Rhenus in Latin or Rheonis in Greek. The Romans viewed the Rhine as the outermost border of civilization and reason, beyond which were mythical creatures and wild Germanic tribesmen, not far themselves from being beasts of the wilderness they inhabited. As it was a wilderness, the Romans were eager to explore it. This view is typified by Res Gestae Divi Augusti, a long public inscription of Augustus, in which he boasts of his exploits; including, sending an expeditionary fleet north of the Rheinmouth, to Old Saxony and Jutland, which he claims no Roman had ever done.
Throughout the long history of Rome, the Rhine was considered the border between Gaul or the Celts and the Germanic peoples; although, it should be noted that the historical ethnonyms do not carry their modern ethno-linguistic definitions. Typical of this point of view is a quote from Maurus Servius Honoratus, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil (On Book 8 Line 727):
The Rhine, in the earlier sources, was always a Gallic river.
As the Roman Empire grew, the Romans found it necessary to station troops along the Rhine. They kept two army groups there (exercitus), the inferior or "lower", and the superior or "upper", which is the first distinction between upper Germania and lower Germania. It originally probably only meant upstream and downstream ("Niederrhein" and "Oberrhein", respectively; see the map above).
The Romans kept eight legions in five bases along the Rhine. The actual number of legions present at any base or in all, depended on whether a state or threat of war existed. Between about 14 AD and 180 AD, the assignment of legions was as follows: for the army of Germania Inferior, two legions at Vetera (Xanten), I Germanica and XX Valeria (Pannonian troops); two legions at oppidum Ubiorum ("town of the Ubii"), which was renamed to Colonia Agrippina, descending to Cologne, V Alaudae, a Celtic legion recruited from Gallia Narbonensis and XXI, possibly a Galatian legion from the other side of the empire.
For the army of Germania Superior: one legion, II Augusta, at Argentoratum (Strasbourg); and one, XIII Gemina, at Vindonissa (Windisch). Vespasian had commanded II Augusta, before his promotion to imperator. In addition, were a double legion, XIV and XVI, at Moguntiacum (Mainz).
The two originally military districts, of Germania Inferior and Germania Superior, came to influence the surrounding tribes, who later respected the distinction in their alliances and confederations. For example, the upper Germanic peoples combined into the Alemanni. For a time, the Rhine ceased to be a border, when the Franks crossed the river and occupied Roman-dominated Celtic Gaul, as far as Paris.
The first urban settlement, on the grounds of what is today the centre of Cologne, along the Rhine, was Oppidum Ubiorum, which was founded in 38 BC, by the Ubii, a Germanic tribe. Cologne became acknowledged, as a city by the Romans in 50 AD, by the name of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. Considerable Roman remains can be found in contemporary Cologne, especially near the wharf area, along the Rhine, where a notable discovery, of a 1900 year old Roman boat, was made on the Rhine banks, in late 2007.
Subsequently, language changes began to play a major political role. West Germanic dissimilated into Low Saxon; Low Franconian languages and High German languages, roughly along the old lines. Perhaps, it had been doing so all along. Charlemagne united all the Franks in the Holy Roman Empire, but he did not rule over a people of uniform language. After his death, the empire split, more or less along language lines, with the Low Franconian being spoken in the Netherlands and the Low Saxon and High German, in what became Germany. The Romanized Franks became the French. The Rhine once again became a political border.
The Rhine as a border has been and still is a mystical and political symbol. German authors and composers have written reams about it. During World War II, it was still considered the sacred border, of Germany and still was a defensive barrier.
The Rhine is closely linked to many important historical events — particularly military ones — as well as myths. For example:
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The Rhine River spans Central Europe and Western Europe. It flows through or along the borders of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and The Netherlands. It is a major navigation way and played an important role in history and culture of Europe.
The Rhine is commonly divided into the following parts:
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RHINE (Lat. Rhenus, Ger. Rhein, Fr. Rhin, Dutch Rhyn, or Rijn), the chief river of Germany and one of the most important in Europe. It is about 850 m. in length and drains an area of 75,000 sq. m. The distance in a direct line between its source in the Alps and its mouth in the German Ocean is 460 m. Its general course is north-north-west, but it makes numerous deflexions and at one point is found running in a diametrically opposite direction. The name Rhine, which is apparently of Celtic origin, is of uncertain etymology, the most favoured derivations being either from der Rinnende (the flowing), or from Rein (the clear), the latter being now the more generally accepted.
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The Rhine rises in the mountains of the Swiss canton of the Grisons, and flows for 233 m. in Swiss territory, within which its drainage basin includes about 14,059 sq. m., and every canton save Geneva. The two main branches of the Rhine, the Hinter Rhine and the Vorder Rhine, unite at Reichenau, 6 m. S.W. of Coire. (1) The principal stream is considered to be that of the Hinter Rhine, which issues (7271 ft.) from the glaciers of the Rheinwaldhorn group, and then flows first N.E. through the Rheinwald valley, and next N. through the Schams valley, which communicates by the well-known gorge of the Via Mala with the Tomleschg valley at Thusis, whence the stream continues its N. course to Reichenau; total length 351 m., total fall 3711 ft. It receives a number of mountain torrents during its course, the most important being that from the Avers glen, and the Albula, both on the right, which is itself formed by many mountain streams. (2) The Vorder Rhine rises in the small Toma lake (7691 ft.), S. of the Oberalp Pass, not far from the St. Gotthard Pass, and then flows N.E. past Disentis and Ilanz, which claims the honour of being the "first town on the Rhine," to Reichenau; total length 42 m., total fall 34922 ft. Its chief affluents are the stream dignified by the name of the Medels Rhine, that rises in the Cadlimo glen, W. of the Lukmanier Pass, and, after flowing through the Medels glen, joins the Vorder Rhine at Disentis, and the Glenner, flowing from the Lugnetz glen, both on the right. From Reichenau the united streams flow N.E. to Coire, the capital of the canton of the Grisons, and then turn towards the N., past Ragatz, the valley broadening out, and the river being joined on the right by the Landquart and the Ill, before it expands into the Lake of Constance. Extensive "corrections" of the river bed, especially the canal of Diepoldsau, have been carried out in the lower bit of this part of the valley, while from a little north of Ragatz the right bank belongs first to Liechtenstein and then to the Austrian province of the Vorarlberg. On issuing from the Lake of Constance at Constance, the Rhine flows nearly due west to Basel, where it leaves Swiss territory, the south bank during this portion of the river being entirely Swiss, save the town of Constance, but the north shore belongs to Baden, save in the case of the Swiss town of Stein-am-Rhein and the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen. The chief towns on its banks are Constance (S.), Schaffhausen (N.), Waldshut (N.), Laufenburg (S.), Sackingen (N.), Rheinfelden (S.), and Basel (both banks). About 12 m. below Schaffhausen the river forms the famous Falls of the Rhine, or Falls of Schaffhausen (60 ft. high), while at Coblenz, opposite Waldshut, it receives its chief affluent, the Aar, recently swollen by the Reuss and the Limmat, and of greater volume than the river in which it loses its identity. (W. A. B. C.) 2. The German and Dutch Portion. - After Basel, when the Rhine turns to the north and enters Germany, its breadth is between 550 and 600 ft., while its surface now lies not more than Boo ft. above the sea, showing that the river has made a descent of 6900 ft. by the time it has traversed a third of its course. From Basel to Mainz the Rhine flows through a wide and shallow valley, bordered on the east and west by the parallel ranges of the Black Forest and the Vosges. Its banks are low and flat, and numerous islands occur. The tendency to divide into parallel branches has been curbed in the interests of navigation, and many windings have been cut off by leading the water into straight and regular channels. At Mannheim the river is nearly 1500 ft. in width, and at Mainz, where it is diverted to the west by the barrier of the Taunus, it is still wider. It follows the new direction for about 20 m., but at Bingen it again turns to the north and begins a completely new stage of its career, entering a narrow valley in which the enclosing rocky hills abut so closely on the river as often barely to leave room for the road and railway on either bank; during this portion of its course the speed of the current at a normal state of the water exceeds 6 m. an hour. This is the most beautiful part of the whole course of the river, abounding in ruined castles, romantic crags and sunny vineyards. At Coblenz the valley widens and the river is 1200 ft. broad, but the hills close in again at Andernach, and this ravine-like part of its course cannot be considered as ending till below the Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains), where the river once more expands to a width of1300-1600ft. Beyond Bonn and Cologne the banks are again flat and the valley wide, though the hills on the right bank do not completely disappear till the neighbourhood of Dusseldorf. Farther on the country traversed by the Rhine is perfectly level, and the current becomes more and more sluggish. On entering Holland, which it does below Emmerich, its course is again deflected to the west. Within Holland the banks are so low. as to require at places to be protected by embankments against inundations. Almost immediately after entering Holland the stream divides into two arms, the larger of which, carrying off about two-thirds of the water, diverges to the west, is called the Waal, and soon unites with the Maas. The smaller branch to the right retains the name of Rhine and sends off another arm, called the Yssel, to the Zuider Zee. The Rhine now pursues a westerly course almost parallel with that of the Waal. At Wijk another bifurcation takes place, the broad Lek diverging on the left to join the Maas, while the "Kromme Rijn" to the right is comparatively insignificant. Beyond Utrecht, where it is again diminished by the divergence of the Vecht to the Zuider Zee, the river under the name of the "Oude Rijn," or Old Rhine, degenerates into a sluggish and almost stagnant stream, which requires the artificial aid of a canal and of sluices in finding its way to the sea. In Roman times the Rhine at this part of its course seems to have been a full and flowing river, but by the 9th century it had lost itself in the sands of Katwijk, and it was not until the beginning of the 19th century that its way to the sea was re-opened. Though the name Rhine thus at last attaches to a very insignificant stream, the entire district between the Waal on one side and the Yssel on the other, the Insula Batavorum of Caesar, in reality belongs to the delta of the famous river.
Tributaries. The Rhine is said to receive, directly or indirectly, the waters of upwards of 12,000 tributaries of all sizes. Leaving out of account the innumerable glacier streams that swell its volume above the Lake of Constance, the most important affluents to its upper course are the Wutach, the Alb and the Wiese, descending on the right from the Black Forest, and the Aar, draining several Swiss cantons on the left. In the upper Rhenish basin, between Basel and Mainz, the tributaries, though numerous, are mostly short and unimportant. The Ill and the Nahe on the left and the Neckar and the Main on the right are, however, notable exceptions. Before joining the Rhine the Ill runs almost parallel with it and at no great distance for upwards of 50 m. In the narrow part of the valley, between Bingen and Cologne, the Rhine receives the waters of the Lahn and the Sieg on the right, and those of the Mosel, bringing with it the Saar, and the Ahr on the left. Still lower down, but before the Dutch frontier is reached, come the Ruhr and the Lippe on the right, and the Erft on the left. The numerous arms into which the Rhine branches in Holland have already been noticed.
The Rhine connects the highest Alps with the mud banks of Holland, and touches in its course the most varied geological periods; but the river valley itself is, geologically speaking, of comparatively recent formation. Rising amid the ancient gneiss rocks of the St Gotthard, the Rhine finds its way down to the Lake of Constance between layers of Triassic and Jurassic formation; and between that lake and Basel it penetrates the chalk barrier of the Jura. The upper Rhenish valley is evidently the bed of an ancient lake, the shores of which were formed by the gneiss and granite of the Black Forest on the one side and the granite and sandstone of the Vosges on the other. Within the valley all the alluvial deposits are recent. Between Bingen and Bonn the Rhine forces its way through a hilly and rocky district belonging to the Devonian formation. The contorted strata of slate and greywacke rock must have been formed at a period vastly anterior to that in which the lake of the upper valley managed to force an outlet through the enclosing barriers. Probably this section may be looked upon as the oldest portion of the river course proper, connecting the upper Rhenish lake with the primeval ocean at Bonn. In this district, too, as has already been remarked, is the finest scenery of the Rhine, a fact due in great part to the grotesque shapes of the quartzose rocks, left denuded of the less durable slate and sandstone. All the strata intersected by the Rhine between Bingen and Bonn contain fossils of the same classes. The deposits of the actual valley here, belonging to the Miocene group of the Tertiary system, are older than the deposits either farther up or farther down the river; but they are contemporaneous with the basalts of the Rhine, which at Coblenz and in the peaks of the Seven Mountains also contribute to the scenic charm of the river. The very extensive pumice deposits at Neuwied and the lava and other volcanic rocks belong to a more recent epoch. Below Bingen the formations belong almost entirely to the PostTertiary period. Numerous extinct volcanoes rise near Neuwied. In the flatter parts of the valley occur large beds of loam and rubble, sometimes in terraces parallel with, but several hundred feet above, the river, proving by their disposition and appearance that the valley has been formed by the action of water.
The Rhine has been one of the chief waterways of Europe from the earliest times; and, as its channel is not exposed to the danger of silting up like those of the Elbe and the Oder, it has always been comparatively easy to keep it open. The Romans exerted themselves to improve the lower navigation of the river, and appointed prefects of the Rhine to superintend the shipping and to exact the moderate dues imposed to keep the channel in repair. The Franks continued the same policy and retained a system of river-dues. Afterwards, as the banks became parcelled out among a host of petty princelings, each of whom arrogated the right of laying a tax on passing vessels, the imposts became so prejudicial as seriously to hamper the development of the shipping. Many of the riparian potentates derived the bulk of their revenue from this source, and it is calculated that in the 18th century the Rhine yielded a total revenue of X200,000, in spite of the comparatively insignificant amount of the shipping. The first proposal for a free Rhine was mooted by the French at the congress of Rastatt (1797-1799), but Holland, commanding the mouth of the river, placed every obstacle in the way of the suggestion. In T831, on the separation of Holland and Belgium, the former had become more amenable to reason; and a system was agreed upon which practically gave free navigation to the vessels of the riverine states, while imposing a moderate tariff upon foreign ships. After the war of 1866, Prussia negotiated with Baden, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt with a view to the removal of all tolls. It was not, however, till 1868 (see Die Rhein-SchiJ aarts Akte vom 17ten Okt., 1868) that the last vestige of a toll disappeared and the river was thrown open without any restriction. The management of the channel and navigation is now vested in a central commission, meeting at Mannheim on the 1st of July in each year. The channel has been greatly improved and in many places made more direct since the beginning of the 19th century, large sums being annually spent in keeping it in order. Capacious river harbours have been formed at various points, twenty-nine of these being in Germany and eight in Holland. The position of the river is highly f vourable for the development of its trade. It flows through the populous regions of the continent of Europe, to discharge into one 01 the most frequented seas opposite Great Britain, and, besides serving as a natural outlet for Germany, Belgium and Holland, is connected with a great part of central and southern France by the Rhine-Rhone and the Rhine-Marne canals, and with the basin of the Danube by the Ludwigs-Canal.
The introduction of steam has greatly increased the shipping on the Rhine; and small steamers ply also on the Main, the Neckar, the Maas and the Mosel. The first Rhine steamer was launched in 1817; and now the river is regularly traversed by upwards of a hundred, from the small tug up to the passenger saloon-steamer. The steamboat traffic has especially encouraged the ihflux of tourists, and the number of passing travellers may now be reckoned as between one and two millions annually. The river is navigable without interruption from Basel to its mouth, a distance of 550 miles, of which 450 lie within Germany. Above Spires, however, the river craft are comparatively small, but lower down vessels of 500 and 600 tons burden find no difficulty in plying. Between Basel and Strassburg the depth of water is sometimes not more than 3 ft.; between Strassburg and Mainz it varies from 5 to 25 ft.; while below Mainz it is never less than 9 or To ft. The deepest point is opposite the Lorelei (Lurlei) Rock near St Goar, where it is 75 ft. in depth; at Dusseldorf the depth is about 50 ft.
London, Hamburg, Bremen and the chief Baltic ports as far as Riga and St Petersburg participate in the traffic on the Rhine. The boats which ply up and down the river itself, without venturing upon the open sea, are mostly craft of Too to 200 tons, owned in the great majority of cases by their captains, men principally of German or Dutch nationality. This fleet is computed to number some 8500 craft, with an aggregate capacity of over 2 million tons, of which about one-tenth are steamships. The traffic at the chief German ports of the river aggregated 4,489,000 tons in 1870, but by 1900 this had grown to a total of 17,000,000 tons, thus distributed: Ruhrort, 6,512,000 tons; Duisburg, 3,000,000 tons; Cologne, 1,422,000 tons; and Mannheim, 6,021,000 tons. These are not the only ports on the river; a large trade is also done at Kehl, Maxau (for Karlsruhe), Ludwigshafen, Mainz, Bonn, Rotterdam and a host of smaller places. The amount of traffic which passed the town of Emmerich near the Dutch frontier, both ways, increased from an annual average of about 6 million tons in 1881-85 to over 214 million tons in 1899. Notwithstanding the inherent difficulties of construction caused by the great variations in the level of the stream, amounting sometimes to 20 ft. or more, the chief ports of the Rhine are admirably constructed, and well equipped with modern contrivances for loading and unloading vessels. Boats carrying as much as 600 tons are often able to proceed as far up stream as Strassburg, and smaller craft get as far as Huningen, a little above Basel. Large passenger boats ply regularly between Mainz and Dusseldorf, and sometimes extend their journeys as high up as Mannheim, and as far in the other direction as Rotterdam. The efforts of the river authorities are being directed to the deepening and improvement of the navigable channel from the sea to Strassburg, the low-water depths aimed at being TO ft. from Rotterdam to the German frontier, and To ft. thence to Cologne; 8 ft. 3 in. from Cologne to St Goar, and 6 ft. 6 in. from St Goar to Mannheim. At present the Rhine in Holland has a depth of about 9 ft. and a width of 1200 to 1300 ft., though the Merwede branch exceeds this depth by 8 in. Altogether a sum approaching 2,500,000 was spent in Holland within the latter part of the 19th century on the improvement of the Rhine and its principal arteries. Above Mannheim the depth of the stream is always less than 5 ft., and generally varies between that figure and 4 ft. 6 in. The difficulty of ascending the rapids near Bingen is usually surmounted by the help of steam hauling machinery placed on the bank, though powerful tugs have also come into use for this purpose. The work of blasting out the rocks which at that spot projected in the bed of the river, begun in 1830, was continued down to the year 1887, so that now there are two navigable channels of sufficient depth for all vessels which ply up and down that part of the stream. One of the most interesting features of the Rhine navigation is afforded by the huge rafts of timber that are floated down the river. Single tree trunks sent down to the Rhine by the various tributaries are united into small rafts as they reach the main stream; and these again are fastened together to form one large raft about Andernach. Though not so large as formerly, these timber rafts are still sometimes 400 or 500 ft. in length, and are navigated by 200 to 400 men, who live in little huts on the raft, forming actual floating villages. On reaching Dort the rafts are broken up and sold, a single raft sometimes producing as much as £30,000. The voyage from Bingen to Dort takes from one to six weeks, and the huge unwieldy structures require to be navigated with great care. The commerce carried on by the river itself is supplemented by the numerous railways, which skirt its banks and converge to its principal towns. Before the introduction of railways there were no permanent bridges across the Rhine below Basel; but now trains cross it at about a dozen different points in Germany and Holland.
Politically the Rhine has always played a great part. The whole valley seems to have been originally occupied by Celtic tribes, who have left traces of their presence on the contents of tombs and in the forms of names (Moguntiacum or Mainz, Borbetomagus or Worms); but at the beginning of the historical period we find the Celts everywhere in retreat before the advancing Teutons. Probably the Teutonic pressure began as early as the 4th century before Christ, and the history of the next few hundred years may be summed up as the gradual substitution of a Germanic for a Celtic population along the banks of the Rhine. Its second historical period begins with the advent of the Romans, who stemmed the advancing Teutonic tide. Augustus and his successors took good care to fortify the Rhine carefully, and a large proportion of the Roman legions were constantly in garrison here. For two hundred years the Rhine formed the boundary between the Roman empire and the Teutonic hordes; and during that period the left or Roman bank made prodigious strides in civilization and culture. The wonderful Roman remains at Trier and elsewhere, the Roman roads, bridges and aqueducts, are convincing proofs of what the Rhine gained from Roman domination. This Roman civilization was, however, destined to be swamped by the current of Teutonic immigration, which finally broke down the barriers of the Roman empire and overwhelmed the whole of the Rhenish district. Under Charlemagne, whose principal residence was in Aix-la-Chapelle, the culture of the Rhine valley again began to flourish, its results being still to be traced in the important architectural remains of this period. At the partition of the domains of Charlemagne in A.D. 843 the Rhine formed the boundary between Germany and the middle kingdom of Lotharingia; but by 870 it lay wholly within the former realm. For nearly eight hundred years it continued in this position, the frontier of the German empire coinciding more or less with the line of the Rhone. During the early middle ages the bank of the Rhine formed the most cultured part of Germany, basing its civilization on its Roman past. The Thirty Years' War exercised a most prejudicial effect upon the district of the Rhine; and the peace of Westphalia gave France a footing on the left bank of the hitherto exclusively German river by the acquisition of Alsace. The violent seizure of Strassburg by France in 1681 was ratified by the peace of Ryswick in 1697, which recognized the Rhine as the boundary between Germany and France from Basel to about Germersheim. It was an easy inference for the French mind that the Rhine should be the boundary throughout and the Gaul of Caesar restored. This ideal was realized in 1801, when the whole of the left hank of the Rhine was formally ceded to France. The congress of Vienna (1815) restored the lower part of the Rhenish valley to Germany, but it was not till the war of 1870-71 that the recovery of Alsace and Lorraine made the Rhine once more "Germany's river, not Germany's frontier." In the military history of all these centuries constant allusion is made to the Rhine, its passages and its fortresses. Every general who has fought in its neighbourhood has at one time or another had to provide for a crossing of the Rhine, from Julius Caesar, who crossed it twice, down to our own time. The wars carried on here by Louis XIV. are still remembered in the Rhine district, where the devastations of his generals were of the most appalling description; and scarcely a village or town but has a tale to tell of the murder and rapine of this period.
The Rhine has always exercised a peculiar sort of fascination over the German mind, in a measure and in a manner not easily paralleled by the case of any other river. "Father Rhine" is the centre of the German's patriotism and the symbol of his country. In his literature it has played a prominent part from the Nibelungenlied to the present day; and its weird and romantic legends have been alternately the awe and the delight of his childhood. The Rhine was the classic river of the middle ages; and probably the Tiber alone is of equal historical interest among European rivers. But of late years the beauties of the Rhine have become sadly marred; the banks in places, especially between Coblenz and Bonn, disfigured by quarrying, the air made dense with the smoke of cement factories and steam-tugs, commanding spots falling a prey to the speculative builder and villages growing into towns.
See Daniel, Deutschland: Beyerhaus, Der Rhein von Strassburg bis zur hollandischen Grenze (Coblenz, 1902); Mohr, Die Flosserei auf dem Rhein (Mannheim, 1897); C. Eckert, Rheinschiffahrt z9ten Jahrhundert; Horn, Der Rhein, Geschichte and Sagen seiner Burgen (Stuttgart, 1893); Treutlein, Die neueren Deutschen Rheinstromstudien and ihre Ergebnisse (in Ausland, 1893); A. Chambalu, Die Stromveranderungen des Niederrheins seit der vorrOmischen Zeit (Cologne, 1892), and handbooks of Baedeker, Meyer and Woerl.
(J. F. M.; P. A. A.).