Rafting and drift ( "drift" from "drifting" within the meaning of) mean transport of floating tree trunks , logs or sawn timber on waterways , as in Germany was common until about the beginning of the 20th century and regionally until the end of the 50s . When the wood is tied together it is called rafting , otherwise drifting . Rafting is also known as flooding or floating of timber called "floated" so.
The raftsmen tied tree trunks to so-called sturgeons and in this way transported large quantities of wood. Salts were washed out of the wood so that it was less discarded when it was later dried. The drive through weirs was dangerous, however, the height differences between individual logs were sometimes more than a meter, and the raftsman got deep into the water. Behind the weir there were often whirlpools and shallows . Helpers were also available there to provide help in an emergency.
The Old Testament ( 1 Kings 5.23 EU ) mentions that Hiram , the king of Tire , delivered cedar and fir wood in the form of rafts across the Mediterranean to King Solomon , who ruled his great kingdom of Israel from approx. 965 BC. Until approx. 926 BC Should have ruled. Theophrastus ( Hist. Plant. 5.8.2) reported that the Romans brought lumber from the island of Corsica on a raft with fifty sails .
Antiquity and Middle Ages, Germany
A document from the second half of the 12th century (approx. 1173/1174) in the Bavarian Main State Archives provides information on the amount of the taxes that Mittenwald raftsmen had to pay to the Schäftlarn monastery. Another document in Latin from 1258 mentions rafting on the Saale and in the archive of the city of Heilbronn a document from February 17, 1342 mentions rafting.
Modern times, Germany
The increasing population at the end of the Middle Ages and the emerging shipbuilding industry led to a lack of wood . In the 18th century, in addition to construction timber , much more firewood was transported from far away; H. also crooked and overgrown trunks. The rafting industry experienced a strong boom until the second half of the 19th century, when industrialization was in full swing, but the road network was not yet expanded to the extent it is today. That changed at the beginning of the 20th century when the railways and trucks made it possible to transport wood more gently and more quickly, even to places that were not on the river (see also the history of the railways , the history of the railways in Germany ). The rafting disappeared from the rivers, only the log rafting lasted a little longer than the Trift. After the Second World War , rafting was only of regional importance. B. on the Finow Canal , but disappeared almost completely by the end of the 1960s. There was only a brief renaissance in the GDR in the 1980s, when delivery bottlenecks arose in the planned economy . Until the end of the GDR, the Werbellinsee sawmill was fed exclusively with rafted wood; the long timber was let into the water directly next to the sawmill or at the Michen wood shelf, which is now a bathing area. The saw frame conveyor system pulled the rafted logs straight out of the lake.
In December 2014, rafting was included as a form of culture in the directory of intangible cultural heritage in Germany .
The Trift is the pre-form of rafting with untied tree trunks. The wood was thrown into the river, floated in the water, and brought back on land. Most of the time, firewood was treated in this way, but valuable wood was rafted under supervision. Drifting was mainly used during floods in spring and autumn. 2 to 3% of the wood sank or was lost in another way.
In contrast to larger rivers, which are suitable without additional equipment for rafting, the drift streams in had middle and high mountains often tight corners and too little water. Then water reservoirs, ponds and reservoirs were created. Depending on the landscape, these were referred to as Klausen , Wooge , water / swell rooms, swell ponds , swellings, raft ponds , locks or drift lakes. The wood was pre-collected in it or a little further down the valley on the bank and only set off in a torrent when the flood began, for example when the snow melted .
In order to protect them from damage during the Trift, the mills , sawmills and hammer mills along the river were cordoned off and their operators were compensated for the failure by the forest contractors.
The Trift disappeared from the German waterways at the same time as the rafting in the middle of the 20th century.
- from Bohemia via the Schwarzenbergschen Schwemmkanal
- from the Mühlviertel with wood flood (failure flood)
- from the Waldviertel in the middle Kamptal above Rosenburg
- from the Vienna Woods with subsequent ship transport over the Wiener Neustädter Canal
Also in the river basin of the Weser (in addition to the Weser including Werra , Fulda , Aller , Leine , Harz area ) there was a noteworthy rafting operation. In particular, the city of Hann. Münden benefited from this type of timber transport ( stacking right ).
In the Saxon area , rafting was operated on the Elbe , the Mulde , the White Elster and their tributaries and streams, which come from the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and the Ore Mountains (both wooded). In addition to larger settlements, customers were ore smelting companies . Worth mentioning is the formerly important timber handling center in Pirna .
Rhine, Neckar and tributaries
Rafting has been handed down in the Black Forest since the early Middle Ages and was a widespread profession there. With Wieden tied together tree trunks on the rivers moved to the destination. The necessary water masses were dammed up in so-called raft houses or floods and then released together with the raft for the drift . Over the centuries these waterways have been extended to Holland via Murg , Nagold , Enz , Kinzig , Neckar and Rhine . The small side streams were also made flowable in part. For cities like Gernsbach , Schiltach and Wolfach , rafting became the main line of business and was organized in so-called shipping companies. The oldest forest cooperative, the Murgschifferschaft , founded in the 15th century, still exists today . In the 18th century, the Dutch demand for wood led to the boom in the timber trade, but also to the deforestation of large regions of the northern Black Forest . The long and straight fir trees were ideally suited as building material for ships and as driving piles that served as a foundation for cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the swampy soils of the Netherlands. Particularly large and valuable fir trees up to 200 years old were called "Dutch". To this day, reforestations with spruce monocultures bear witness to the destruction of the natural mixed forest.
During this heyday of the Dutch timber trade, capital rafts of the Rhine swam downstream from Koblenz. With a length of 200 to 400 meters and a width of 40 to 80 meters, these were among the largest rafts ever built. The reason could be B. consist of about 1700 trunks and the upper load of about 2000 trunks. 400 to 500 men were needed to control it, for which huge quantities of food were carried along and accommodation, kitchens, a laundry, a bakery, a slaughterhouse and cattle stables were built on the raft.
Due to the expansion of the rail and road network, rafting was largely discontinued towards the end of the 19th century. After 1945 there were only sporadic rafts on the Rhine. In 1967 the rafting was completely stopped here. In the cities of Wolfach , Schiltach and Gengenbach , the tradition of raftsmen and the manufacture of rafts is practically kept alive in clubs and museums. Legends and stories tell about the time of rafting in the northern Black Forest. A story about the Holländer-Michl is The Cold Heart by Wilhelm Hauff .
In Tübingen, the Neckar raftsmen were greeted by the students with the mock shout “ Jockele lock! S'geit en Ailaboga! "Teased, which means something like" Jockele brems! There is an elbow! ”, A jackknife-like jamming of the rafts tied together in the river, caused by carelessness. The last raft went down the Neckar through Tübingen on October 26, 1899.
Bavaria, Austria, Danube and tributaries
With the emergence of cities in the 11th century, there was a strong need for wood as a raw material for building and economic purposes. The rafting industry began in the Austrian and Bavarian regions in the 12th century. The rivers Loisach , Isar , Inn , Lech and Iller were heavily used , through which the cities further down (especially Munich , Freising and Landshut ), but also cities on the Danube such as Ulm , Vienna and Budapest were supplied. Since houses were initially built entirely of wood and the cities were therefore more often victims of fires, the demand for lumber quickly exceeded the resources of the area. There were usually no more stately trees in the area when half-timbered construction prevailed. But stone buildings were dependent on considerable amounts of beams not only for the scaffolding and cranes required for erection, but also for ceilings and roof trusses. During the construction of the Frauenkirche in Munich between 1468 and 1488, for example. For example, master carpenter Heinrich required 147 heavily loaded timber rafts for the roof structure, 49 of which were room rafts and 43 sawn timber rafts with a total of around 630 solid cubic meters of round timber. At the Wolfratshausen customs office in 1496, 3,639 rafts moored at the mandatory landing site.
The salt works in Bad Reichenhall required large amounts of firewood to boil the extracted brine. The saltworks obtained the urgently needed fuel from areas in the Austrian Pinzgau , and the waters of the Saalach were used for the wood drift . The Saalforste are still the private property of the Free State of Bavaria, but are on Austrian territory. The Trift weir and parts of the bank walls and locks are still preserved from the former Trift systems.
The constantly departing rafts were also used to transport goods and sometimes to transport people. In 1501 z. B. according to the 'Summary extract and beschreybung the Khauf trade and Schefleuth to Lands Bayrn "following goods transported: curved ebony , paper , horse blanket , cheese , sheep's wool , Jew's harps , fustian , knitted shirts , chalk , shoes , copper water , lard , grindstones , Whetstones , hop sticks , seaweed , fish (also live). Since 1623 a travel raft, the Ordinari, has operated once a week from Munich to Vienna, which for three guilders per person transported its customers to their destination in seven days. Children were carried free of charge. The raftsmen organized themselves in guilds. A maximum of 20 raft masters were allowed to pursue their trade in Mittenwald and up to 24 in Tölz . Even in 1831 ten raft masters were still recorded in Munich. The raft trip peaked in 1848 with around 5800 rafts a year. Only the weirs of the modern age and modern means of transport such as the railroad brought rafting to a standstill (except for tourist purposes).
In Austria, numerous rivers were also used for timber transport, such as B. the Sulm in Styria or the Great Mühl in Upper Austria . The rafting on the Enns served not only to transport wood but also to transport the iron ore extracted from the Erzberg . The route above Steyr was very dangerous due to the many rapids, especially the one near Reifling , and could only be driven on when the water level was high. Shipping on the Enns ended in the 1860s with the opening of the Crown Prince Rudolf Railway . The Enns Museum , which is set up in the box of a former shop near Weyer , reminds of the time of the rafting .
Franconian Forest, Rodach, Main
In the Franconian Forest, the rafting was first mentioned in a document in 1386 and was occasionally operated until the 1970s. The Franconian fir trees were partly rafted across the Main and Rhine to Amsterdam . Today the rafting is carried out on short distances e.g. B. operated touristically on the Wild Rodach near Wallenfels .
The most common rafts on Rodach and Main were the board rafts called "Stümmel" in the Franconian Forest. They consisted of 960 to 1000 boards that were held together with bars and bars. Several stumps could be combined into "stump pieces". In the 20th century, the board rafts disappeared with the construction of the railway, which could transport the sawn timber much more gently.
The simplest form of raft construction was the "basic dome". It consisted of three to ten trunks with a maximum width of 2.60 m, firmly joined together at the front by a yoke and only connected to the outer trunks at the rear. The longest trunk, the "King", lay in the middle and made the raft manoeuvrable and agile for the winding and narrow streams.
Bavarian Forest, rain
Since the 14th century there has been a toll for raft trips on the rain for the first time . State rafting and rafting of the rain and flowing waters took place in the years 1849 and following. The measures were the installation of bell mechanisms and locks, exposure and cleaning of the rivulets of rock and the installation of bank protection. In 1856 the first state decree of a raft regulation came. In 1863 a towpath was laid on both sides of the river 1.5 m wide because of disputes with landowners. The Triftsperre cases rake is still reminiscent of the rafting on the rain.
For a good 30 years (from March 1636 to 1667) there was a ban on Holzfluder on the Regen from Zwiesel to Regensburg because of pearl farming in the river. Rafting and drifting damaged too many mussels. Up to 1200 mussels had to be opened to find pearls.
The Triftsperre on the Ilz near Hals is still in good condition today . This barrier, which was built between 1827 and 1829, significantly shortened the long way through the Halser river loop with an accompanying rock tunnel . Up to 100,000 sterling of wood was shipped here every year.
Weser and tributaries
When the demand for wood increased in the north German lowlands in the 12th and 13th centuries due to the expansion of cities, shipbuilding and the construction of ports, the Weser offered itself as a transport route to meet the demand with deliveries from the wooded mountainous region. Wood and wood products were transported both by ship and in and on rafts. The city of Hanover was supplied with wood from the Solling via the Ilme and Leine rivers . Since from the Weserbergland to the 19th century, only Hardwood was predominantly oak and, in lesser amounts verflößt beech wood, the wood had before Verflößung because of the high specific gravity dried. The trees were barked to speed up the drying process. In oaks, sapwood was also often removed. Nevertheless, the rafts had a draft of up to 80 cm and were therefore difficult to steer, so that the rafts did not contain more than 120 to 150 solid cubic meters of wood. By tying up wooden barrels (tons) the buoyancy could be improved. Such rafts were also called "barrel rafts". In addition to logs, processed wood ( beams , planks or boards ) was also rafted.
Over the Werra also came softwood from the Thuringian Forest to the Weser, which in Hann. Münden and Gimte were bundled into large Weser rafts. These so-called “board rafts” were the most common type of raft on the Weser in the 18th and 19th centuries. In order to be able to better satisfy the demand for wood, coniferous wood cultivation was started in the Weser Uplands at the beginning of the 18th century, although it only took on larger proportions in the middle of the 19th century. An initial report about the compilation of a raft made of spruce wood comes from Wahmbeck from 1870. Larger amounts from the domestic area were only rafted after the First World War .
With the advent of other modes of transport, especially trucks from the mid-1950s, rafting came to a standstill. In 1964 only 6 rafts passed the lock in Hamelin . After that, only individual rafts were built, especially for nostalgic reasons.
Wood from the southern Lüneburg Heath was brought to the Weser by rafting on the Ise , Örtze and Aller from around the 17th century . This mode of transport was discontinued after the First World War .
In Finland, rafting is still very important today. The Kimola Canal , which was inaugurated for timber transport in August 1966, is 7 km long and connects the Kymijoki River via Lake Konnivesi with the downstream Pyhäjärvi (Kymenlaakso) . The canal construction began in 1962. The waterway was built by the government with the most modern technology at the time, but a large part of it was taken out of service in 1999; the last tree trunks swam through the canal on August 14, 2002. There are no locks, but there is a 12 m high dam near a tunnel, on which the wood was lowered with two 30 t cranes in order to overcome the difference in height.
After the Russian Revolution , a rafting institute was founded in St. Petersburg, whose task it was to develop new technologies for rafting. In 2006 about 59,000 cubic meters of wood were transported by rafting. In 2008 rafting in Russia was carried out on more than 2000 rivers and 255 lakes, totaling about 142,000 km.
Rafting and drifting were common on all rivers in Switzerland . The most important timber transport waters included the Aare , Alpine Rhine and High Rhine , Ticino , Rhone , Inn , Emme , Reuss , Limmat and Sihl . Rafted wood, for example, was loaded with goods on the Alpine Rhine from Reichenau to Rheineck , after the Rhine had been a free imperial road since 1291 (analogy to the free imperial city ).
The big cities and the mining industry were supplied, later also iron works in Gerlafingen , Choindez and Emmenbrücke . Wood was also exported, for example on the Rhine to the Netherlands, down the Rhone and via Inn and Danube to Vienna. It was customary for the rafts to be loaded with merchandise. There were guilds in various places, but rafting was free. In the 1830s the timber trade was also liberalized, which initially gave rafting a great boost. Railway construction and hard coal imports 30 years later brought about the end of this trade in Switzerland.
The tradition of rafting is still upheld on Lake Aegeri . Every three years, most recently in spring 2011, logging is carried out, combined with a rafting festival. The wood cut in the mountain forest on the southwestern bank is rafted across the lake to Unterägeri and lifted out of the Lorze river in the middle of the village . In 2005 the two forest owners, Korporation Unterägeri and Korporation Oberägeri, made a film to document the craft of rafting for the future. The Flösserweg exists on the Aare .
Rafting in Sweden began on a larger scale from 1300 and increased sharply from 1400 when coal and ore mining began. From 1800 the rafting continued to grow, when farmers sold their wood to sawmills, paper mills or for export. During this time, many rivers were dammed for hydropower and rapids that hindered rafting were removed, so that, for example, the Dalälven from Dalarna down to the sea was floatable from 1870. Rafting companies were established on the larger rivers, often until the 1960s-1980s, when rail and truck transportation became more profitable.
When the rafting season started in Dalälven , after cleaning the banks and damming the rivers, a small raft was traditionally built with a doll representing a rafting operator. The raft was greeted with cheers from all the raftsmen on its journey.
Rafting on the Klarälven in Sweden
In Spain there was rafting primarily on the Ebro , Tajo , Júcar , Turia and Segura rivers and to a lesser extent on the Guadalquivir . There is evidence of gancheros (rafters) from the 16th century to the middle of the 20th century. José Luis Sampedro reflected the dangerous life of the gancheros in his novel The River That Leads us (1961). This was converted in 1989 by Antonio del Real into a film with Fernando Fernán Gómez and Alfredo Landa .
In Catalonia there was rafting from the 13th century until the 1930s when the construction of dams hampered rafting. Since 1979, the national rafting day has been celebrated in La Pobla de Segur on the first Sunday in July and since 1982, on the third Sunday in August in Coll de Nargó . A raft is built according to traditional methods and used to navigate the river.
In Pont de Claverol there is a rafting museum which has a permanent exhibition as well as a library and a documentary center for archive material, photos and videos. In the summer of 1998 the rafting museum opened in Coll de Nargó.
East Central Europe
Until the First World War , the Memel was of European importance in rafting. From Russia and Lithuania it brought up to 4,000 drifts with around 2 million solid cubic meters of wood to Tilsit , where the local mayor Eldor Pohl made a contribution to promoting rafting by building a wooden port.
The rafts on Pine Creek in Tioga County , Pennsylvania were often solidly built. The left raft pictured here served as a kitchen and dining room, the middle as a bedroom and the right as a stable for the towing used horses. These rafts were only built to transport timber and were sold as sawn timber at the end of the trip. The Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railway line can be seen in the background .
When talking about the old days on the Altamaha River , the raftsmen often mentioned a pile of clothes called Rag Point . Anyone who passed it downstream on board for the first time had to make a donation by throwing an item of clothing on it. Those who didn't want to or couldn't do that were "ducked or docked" - dipped into the river or asked to pay for drinks in the saloons at their destination in Darien .
Long-serving raftsmen also always mentioned the "Holler", a kind of yodelling by the raftsmen in the early morning or late evening. There was an echo from up and down the river, and occasionally other lonely raftsmen replied.
Even when in the 1900s the land in the west and south of the river had long ceased to be inhabited by Indians, it was still a custom to call the banks “white” and “Indian” - or “injun”, like the raftsmen usually pronounced that. “Ease the bow to injun - push the bow to the Indians” was a typical command from the raft leaders to their helpers.
Large rafts are still used today on Canada's west coast off Vancouver and Vancouver Island . These rafts reach lengths of over a kilometer and are often well over 50 meters wide. The rafts are completely unmanned. There are only two or three men on the tugs.
Terms of rafting
Many of the technical terms mentioned here are not generally applicable, as the linguistic usage varied from region to region.
Breaking off - with a breaking off, firewood was collected from the river in order to direct it into a drift canal.
Bloch / Block - 3 to 6 m long sawn off part of a trunk for the production of wooden boards
Bare - place where the cut logs were brought from the forest to the river valley. Mostly it was a lane in which the trunks were transported with ropes and chopped up tree trunks as rolls.
Binding / hanging - binding the logs to raft joints and rafts at the binding site
Raft eye - the raft eye or Wiedloch is a hole worked into a timber beam that is used to tie timber into rafts.
Raft official - person appointed by the state authorities to supervise the course of the rafts, to prevent wood theft and to collect the landing fee. also: raft master, supervisor, chief raft commissioner, raft regiments
Floßfeld / Plötze - the long wood connected to a board.
Raft ditch - mostly artificially created water ditch for the transport of logs.
Raft hook - the raftsman's universal tool . The 1.50 to several meters long wooden poles with iron tips and hooks curved to the side were used to build rafts, steer, hold on and drive in blocks as well as push, turn, turn, roll and lift the wood.
Floßherr - (in the east Retmann ) is the person responsible during the raft trip, which he undertakes on behalf of the owner of the raft timber and the goods transported by the raft. He is also the owner or leaseholder of the pick-up area and is responsible for the raftsmen under his care.
Raft landing - the places where the logs for raft construction are collected, stacked and tied together to form individual rafts, or where the raft lands, its goods are unloaded and the raft is dismantled for the purpose of wood processing.
Raft order - the most since the Middle Ages existing raft regulations must be adhered to freeze the beginning specified by the sovereign directives, such as the periods of Spring rafts from March to May at the latest and autumn rafts from September. According to them, the Trift also had to end on April 23, the “Jörgetag” ( George's Day ).
Raft rake / protection - protective precaution to be able to slow down any logs drifting downstream. Raft rakes must be built very solidly so that they can withstand tidal waves and drifting logs.
Raft slide - the boat lane makes it possible to bypass the height difference at weirs or waterfalls without damaging the wood. In order to generate enough current, slats are attached to the bottom of the raft slide. These point outwards from the center in the direction of flow. As a result, the water shooting past in the direction of the underwater is pressed on the bottom in the direction of the walls, rises up the walls and flows on the surface from both sides towards the center. This creates a channel in the middle of the alley that is often visible on the surface of the water. This and the double circular flow automatically keep the raft in the middle of the alley. One of the most famous raft slides in Canada bypasses the waterfalls of the Rivière Chaudière . It became a well-known tourist attraction.
Fluder, fludern - raft and raft in the rafting language. The terms were used on the rain in the 20th century.
Joint - the joint or sturgeon is the structural unit of a raft (raft link, raft section).
Dutch - strong trunks suitable for ship masts with an average diameter of at least 34 cm and a length of 20 m (values vary regionally)
Klause - dam made of wood, stone or earth for damming the drift water, with a gate to allow the driftwood to pass through.
Paths - smaller softwood trunk tied into the raft
Oblast - additional cargo in the form of wood (e.g. non-buoyant timber) or other cargo that is carried on the raft.
Riesen - Riesen or Riesbahnen are wooden slides on which wood was transported from the point of impact to the raft stream. They were v. a. Widespread in the Black Forest and the Alps.
Locks - barrages that allow logs to drift through the damming of the water. The river is dammed up to several thousand meters, and the tree trunks can be rafted even on small rivers without any problems.
Stacking fee / storage fee - deposit fee for storing wood.
Wasserstube - artificially created raft pond (water collecting basin) to feed a raft ditch.
Wieden - Wieden are extremely flexible and resilient wooden ropes that were used to tie the rafts or their cargo. They were made from selected 2.5 to 3.5 m long young trunks of willow, spruce, fir or oak that were cut in late autumn. They were heated in or over a (re) oven and then turned on by clamping the strong end in a "Hutzel bench" or a "Wiedenbock". In the 20th century they were increasingly replaced by steel cables.
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- Geocaching: Kimolan kanava (in Finnish and English).
- Markus Kaiser: Rhine. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . August 27, 2013 , accessed June 5, 2019 .
Anne-Marie Dubler : Flösserei. In: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz .;
Martin Illi: Sihl. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
- Raiers Museum, Pont de Claverol (in English).
- Museu dels Raiers ( Memento of 2 September 2011 at the Internet Archive ) (in Catalan).
- Hans-Walter Keweloh: Technical dictionary of the rafting . 2nd edition, Bremen 2015 (PDF; 530 kB).