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(upper course Wipper )
Overview map of the river

Overview map of the river

Water code EN : 2736
location Süderbergland

Lower Rhine Bay


River system Rhine
Drain over Rhine  → North Sea
source near Börlinghausen in Marienheide
51 ° 5 '43 "  N , 7 ° 35' 50"  E
Source height approx.  444  m above sea level NN
muzzle near Leverkusen - Rheindorf in the Rhine (km 703) Coordinates: 51 ° 2 '42 "  N , 6 ° 56' 40"  E 51 ° 2 '42 "  N , 6 ° 56' 40"  E
Mouth height 37  m above sea level NN
Height difference approx. 407 m
Bottom slope approx. 3.5 ‰
length 116.5 km
Catchment area 813,369 km²
Discharge at the gauge Opladen,
A Eo : 606 km²
Location: 5.33 km above the mouth
NNQ (Aug. 26, 1973)
MNQ 1951–2009
MQ 1951–2009
Mq 1951–2009
MHQ 1951–2009
HHQ (Sep. 23, 1957)
2.18 m³ / s
5.11 m³ / s
14.9 m³ / s
24.6 l / (s km²)
121 m³ / s
219 m³ / s
A Eo : 813 km²
at the mouth
17.6 m³ / s
21.6 l / (s km²)
Reservoirs flowed through Wuppertalsperre , Dahlhausen dam , Beyenburger reservoir
Big cities Wuppertal , Solingen , Remscheid , Leverkusen
Medium-sized cities Wipperfürth , Radevormwald , Schwelm , Ennepetal , Leichlingen
Small towns Marienheide , Hückeswagen
Residents in the catchment area about 900,000
"Official" source of the Wipper in Börlinghausen, one of 37 different sources

"Official" source of the Wipper in Börlinghausen , one of 37 different sources

Wupper near Radevormwald-Vogelsmühle

Wupper near Radevormwald - Vogelsmühle

The Wupper under the suspension railway line

The Wupper under the suspension railway line

View from the Müngstener Brücke into the Wupper valley to the south

View from the Müngstener Brücke into the Wupper valley to the south

Where the Wupper flows into the Rhine (river kilometer 703)

Where the Wupper flows into the Rhine (river kilometer 703)

The Wupper is a river in North Rhine-Westphalia ( Germany ) that rises as a wipper near the Marienheider village of Börlinghausen on the border with Meinerzhagen in the Bergisches Land and in the city of Leverkusen between the districts of Wiesdorf and Rheindorf after 116.5 kilometers of river and a good 400 climbed meters of altitude (average gradient is 0.4%) flows into the Rhine . The mean discharge there is a good 17 m³ / s.


The name Wipper / Wupper is derived from a common - albeit not undisputed - interpretation of the rocking of the water over the stones in the stream or river bed, i.e. it means fast moving water , which corresponds to the very fast low mountain range river. This interpretation is derived from the Germanic root word for “swing”, “turn”, “sway”, “move back and forth”, “hop”, “jump”, “wave”. In addition the old German word "uipparaha", which means something like "singing, jumping river".

Elfriede Ulbricht saw here an origin from Middle Low German , Dutch and Middle English Wippen. According to this, the river name is used 15 times in Germany, also in variations such as Wipfer . The basic word was originally aha (a variant of -au ). This was weakened in the late 10th century on -a and in the early 11th century on -e and then disappeared completely at the Wipper. In other rivers of this name, the -a or -e was preserved. The name would be made up of rotating, rotating, swaying movement and water (in the sense of flowing water).

According to another controversial theory by Hans Krahe , the name comes from an even older time. Wip therefore means swampy terrain in Celto-Ligurian. The ending -ara stands for a feminine name for a river, as it is supposed to be based on Visara / Wisera ( Weser ) and here with Wipra / Wippera ( river that comes from a swamp ).

Felix Solmsen and Ernst Fraenkel adopted a designation corresponding to the common meaning , but saw the root of the name as having an Indo-European origin and translate the river name as the hopping .

According to Wilhelm Sturmfels , Wipper could simply be a general word for river, which, in his opinion, is due to the occurrence of numerous other flowing waters with the name Wipper (including Wipper (Unstrut) , Wipper (Saale) , Wieprza ), but also in a more rounded form Iper in Belgium or Spanish Iber-us ( Ebro ) in Central Europe.

The seesaws

Nowadays the name Wipper is still used for the upper part of the Wupper, with two different places where the name changes. There is no information on this in the NRW register of waters. Overview maps often show the beginning of the name Wupper from the mouth of the Kerspes near Ohl , as determined by the Wupperverband. On other maps, the term Wipper is used as far as Leiersmühle, i.e. where the ford over the Wupper, which gives the city of Wipperfürth its name, is. In the opinion of the local Heimatverein, this is also the right place.



The source area with a total of 37 sources of the Wupper is located in a wet moor near Marienheide-Börlinghausen near the city limits of Meinerzhagen . It was established in 1968 for the preservation, restoration and development of a valuable spring moor and for the preservation and development of habitats of endangered animal and plant species in the 3.48 hectare nature reserve spring area of ​​the Wupper (identification: GM-004, CDDA code: 82351) under nature protection posed. Numerous other river sections up to the mouth are also protected.

The included “official source” in Börlinghausen with the memorial stone erected there is mainly fed by an artificially created side channel of the stream behind the confluence of the 37 actual springs and then flows back to the river from the “source pot”.

The Wupper runs from east to west with an arc that stretches to the north, known as the Wupperviereck . It flows through the cities and communities of Marienheide , Wipperfürth , Hückeswagen , Radevormwald , Wuppertal , Remscheid , Solingen and Leichlingen until it flows into the Rhine in Leverkusen . For Kierspe , Ennepetal and Schwelm , the river forms the city limits for a short distance. The Wupper is crossed by almost 200 bridges , 90 of which are in Wuppertal alone.

The longest tributary is the Dhünn , which flows into the Wupper on the left in Leverkusen below the Opladen gauge . According to old maps, there used to be a second arm of the Dhünn, which flowed directly into the Rhine. The arm to the Wupper was thrown a few meters in the 19th century. Since then, the tributary to the Rhine no longer exists. The catchment area covers 813 km² with around 2300 kilometers of flowing water. Around 900,000 people live in this catchment area.

For a schematic representation see also: Wupper / flow diagram

Natural structure

The natural spatial subdivision of the former Institute for Regional Studies divided the course of the Wupper as follows:

The Wipperquell area comprises the source area and the upper reaches of the Wipper with its catchment area to Wipperfürth- Ohl . The Brucher dams and the Lingesetalsperre are also in the natural area.
The Wippermulde encompasses the box-shaped valley of the Wupper between Wipperfürth- Ohl and Hückeswagen (town center).
The eastern Wupperengal includes the meandering narrow valley of the Wupper between Hückeswagen and Wuppertal- Oberbarmen . With the Wuppertalsperre , the Dahlhausen reservoir and the Beyenburger reservoir , three reservoirs of the Wupper are located in the natural area.
The center of the Wuppertal district of Barmen is located in the Barmer Kalksenke .
The hard slate ridge separates the Barmer limestone basin from the Elberfeld limestone basin.
The center of the Elberfeld district of Wuppertal is located in the Elberfeld limestone sink .
The Nützenberg cross bar, a breakthrough of the Wupper, separates the Elberfeld limestone basin from the Sonnborn limestone area (337 1 37).
The western Wupperengal includes the meandering narrow valley of the Wupper between Wuppertal- Sonnborn and Solingen- Burg an der Wupper .
The lower Wuppertal includes the V-shaped valley of the Wupper between Solingen-Burg an der Wupper and Leichlingen-Balken.
The mouth of the Wuppertal describes the exit of the Wupper from the Rhenish Slate Mountains into the Rhine plain near Leverkusen- Opladen .
The confluence of the Wupper into the Rhine.


The Wupperverband is responsible for backwaters and rivers , as well as wastewater management in the catchment area of ​​the Wupper .

The river is dammed in four places: The Wuppertal dam, which has been planned since the 1950s, built from 1982 and put into operation in 1989, is located exactly in the city triangle of Remscheid / Hückeswagen / Radevormwald and is used for flood protection and low water increase. It has a storage space of 25.9 million cubic meters.

The smaller Beyenburg reservoir , a damming of the Wupper in Wuppertal- Beyenburg, fulfills the same function . The Radevormwald-Dahlhausen barrage is used to generate electricity . A historical model of an old storage flap is explained with an information board in the center of the place. The Leiersmühle compensatory pond is the smallest of the four Wupper dams and is mainly used as a biotope for nature conservation. The Buchenhofen compensation pond was opened .

In addition to the four larger reservoirs, there are numerous other actively used and historical weirs in the river, which primarily served the extensive historical and current use of hydropower.

In the catchment area of ​​the Wupper there are 15 further dams that feed the river directly or indirectly. This density of dams is unusual for a river of this length.

River history

The existence of the Wupper can be traced back about 30 million years. At that time it still flowed into the sea, the Rhine did not yet exist. It has been showing its current course for around 800,000 years.

According to legend, a long time ago a starving dwarf king met a woman in the forest who was collecting wild strawberries for her children. The woman showed pity for the dwarf and gave him something to eat from her strawberry harvest. As a thank you for this, the dwarf king stuck his wand into the earth, whereupon a spring arose, which became the origin of the Wupper.

Old documents from the Leichlingen area suggest that the entire course of the river Wipper was called in the High Middle Ages . In the course of time there are several spellings for the river name, such as Wipper , Wypper , Wepper , Wuepper or Wopper , which from the 17th century onwards increasingly solidified from Wipper in the direction of the toned name "Wupper".

As Wipper , the river gave the city of Wipperfürth ( first mentioned as Wuepervde ) its name. There, in the village of Leiersmühle , when there were no bridges yet, there was a ford for crossing the river. It belonged to the old road Cologne – Wipperfürth – Soest , also referred to as Heerweg (see the village of Dievesherweg north of Leiersmühle).

For the Wipperfürth districts of Wipperfeld and Wipperhof , as well as the villages of Nieder- , Bös- , Klas- , Schmitz- and Holzwipper , the Wipper was named. Nevertheless, the river is (today) already called from the confluence of the Kerspe Wupper . As such, the body of water originally only gave two settlements the name, namely the Leichlinger district Wupperhof and the Barmer district Wupperfeld . In 1930 the city of Barmen-Elberfeld, which had only been established in 1929, was renamed Wuppertal. The form Wipper probably also gave the localities Wippe, Wipperaue and Wipperkotten (all Solingen ) their name, but according to the unconfirmed opinion of Fritz Hinrichs this has nothing to do with the Wupper, but with the Weinsberger Bach , which is also a " rocking " tributary Wipperkotten flows into the Wupper.

Due to the rocky and steep banks of the Wupper in a sometimes very narrow river bed, which is cut deep into the plateau of the Bergisches Land , as well as the rather poor soils and the rainy climate, there was a significant settlement of the Wupper area only from the early Middle Ages . In the Middle Ages, the river played an important role for local residents, especially as a fishing water.

The Wupper has been fundamental to the economic development of the Bergisches Land since modern times , as its water is used either for bleaching yarns and cloths ( Barmen and Elberfeld ) or as a driving force for turbines and upper or lower water wheels, for example in grinding dots for metal processing has been. Since the 19th century it has also been used as a cooling water reservoir for the developing chemical industry ( Bayer plants in Wuppertal-Elberfeld).

The river, the landscape and the monuments in the valley of the Wupper served the landscape painter Erwin Bowien (1899–1972) as a template for many of his paintings.


Water quality

The water temperature of the Upper Wupper (Wipper) is 13 to 18 ° C in summer and 3 to 6 ° C in winter. The lower Wupper is about 2 to 5 ° C warmer.

Because the river was used for sewage disposal at the beginning of industrialization, it quickly degenerated into a sewer. In particular, the sewage from dye works and other chemical industries killed almost all life in the river. In 1914 Erich Hasenclever said : “Any life in the Wupper is impossible. This river is pure poison. "And the social democratic member of the Reichstag for the constituency of Düsseldorf 3 (district of Solingen), Philipp Scheidemann , said in a speech on February 8, 1904:" The Wupper is actually so black that if you hide a national liberal in it, they can pull him out again as the center man. ”As can be seen from numerous historical descriptions, the Wupperwasser shimmered for decades in bright colors up to a deep dark red due to the discharge of sewage from textile dyeing in Wuppertal. In addition to the Elbe and Rhine, the Wupper was one of the most polluted rivers in Europe at the beginning of the 1970s (2nd place behind the Emscher in West Germany ), which was also clearly smell in summer. In the schools in the city of Leichlingen directly bordering the river, lessons were therefore regularly broken off, which at the time was called "stink-free". Anecdote: In the 1960s, Bergisch children learned in elementary school that the Wupper was the “busiest” river in Europe because - in relation to its size - it carried away the most polluted loads.

An extensive water protection program by means of numerous sewage works and the rethinking in the industry promoted the water quality sustainably, so that it is now possible to fish again in the Wupper. It is noteworthy, for example, that several pairs of gray herons have settled in the industrial city of Wuppertal - including where the Wupper flows under the suspension railway right next to the Bayer works .

Water quality: II (moderately polluted), II – III (critically polluted) and III (heavily polluted); Responsible authority: State Environment Agency Düsseldorf, status: 2003.

environmental Protection

A clear change in awareness has taken place since the sewage was clarified: The people of the Wupper are increasingly committed to the protection and care of the water. This can be seen in the large number of participants in the regular collection campaigns in some cities, but also in the acceptance of various renaturation measures in the river bed, e.g. B. in the area of ​​the Kohlfurther bridge . Large parts of near-natural, river-side landscapes on the Wupper are now under nature protection or are designated as FFH areas.



As with German low mountain rivers, the fish fauna of the Wupper is typically divided into three sections. From the source to Rönsahl one speaks of the trout region , which is accompanied by bullheads , brook loaches , minnows and brook lampreys . Here the water is very soft, poor in nutrients and rich in oxygen. This is followed by the grayling region , downriver to about Leichlingen (Rhineland) , in which chub , brown trout , nose , hazel and salmon also occur. The last section to the Rhine belongs to the barbel region with pike , perch , salmon and sea ​​trout in cloudy, oxygen-poor water. This natural fish population was found until the 18th century. After its complete disappearance due to the enormous pollution during industrialization, attempts have been made to restore the original fish fauna since the last third of the 20th century. Meanwhile one counts z. B. Remscheid, which has a number of backwaters and tributaries of the Wupper, again 27 different fish species.

Special species of the typical bird fauna of the colline beech forests on the Wupper are kingfisher , dipper , black woodpecker (in old forests), black stork (in the upper reaches), eagle owl (naturalized again) as well as gulls , gray herons and cormorants , which have returned since the middle of the 20th century to the The urban area of ​​Wuppertal have penetrated.

The noble cancer originally native to the Wupper was completely eradicated by the American signal cancer used by humans , as the new citizen transmitted the cancer plague , from which the local cancer perished. Crayfish can only be found in a few isolated tributaries.

Among the mammals, in addition to the “classic” species, deer , wild boar , red fox , badger , marten , squirrel and others, some “new citizens” such as the raccoon dog from Asia, the raccoon and muskrat from North America or the similar nutria from South America occur.


Even in the actual source area, a long way from the "official" Wipper spring, the flora is complex. Marsh orchids can be found where around 30 spring pots form a swamp area from which the upper course of the river is formed.

The entire course of the river is in large parts lined with balsamines, such as the glandular balsam, popularly called "Wupperchideen" because of their shape and color . Like the Japanese knotweed or the giant hogweed , which also occur in large, extensive populations on the Wupper, they are neophytes (non-native plants).

Sights and buildings

The Wupper near the Ketzberger Bach (Kohlfurth), on the right the Landesstraße 74

Idiom go over the Wupper

Course of the Wupper in Radevormwald - Dahlerau

The phrase going over the Wupper has several meanings:

On the one hand, it means that something or someone, analogous to the phrase going across the Jordan , disappears or dies. This is popularly based on the earlier death row of a Wuppertal prison . From the point of view of the Wuppertal District Court , which had been on a Wupper Island (called Court Island or Eiland ) since 1854, it was on the other side of the river and could only be reached via a bridge. If a felon was to be executed, he had to go across the Wupper.

Another meaning of the phrase is bankruptcy: The Wuppertal district court is also located on the court island in the middle of the Wupper. So anyone who files for bankruptcy must - regardless of which side of the Wupper they live on - go via the Wupper to get to the competent court.

The most likely interpretation, however, is the following: In the first half of the 18th century, the eastern course of the Wupper formed the border between the County of Mark, which was transferred to Prussia , and the Duchy of Berg . The Prussian soldier king Friedrich Wilhelm I also sent his forced recruits to this remote province. To escape the advertisers, the young men fled across the river to Berg - “they went over the Wupper” into close exile . This migration left its mark on the demographics and economy on both sides of the river. While industry prospered noticeably in Barmen in the Bergisches Land due to the increase in high-performing workers , an economic decline followed in Schwelm in the Mark region .

See also


  • Sigurd Tesche: The Wupper - Amazon in the Bergisches Land


  • Sigurd Tesche , Michael Leja and Natali Tesche-Ricciardi: The Wupper - Amazonas in the Bergisches Land. rga.Buchverlag, Remscheid 2009, ISBN 978-3-940491-08-4 .
  • Alfred Lauer: The Wupper - From the source to the mouth. JF Ziegler KG, Remscheid 1988, ISBN 3-923495-13-7 .
  • Günter Hammermann: Hikes in the Bergisches Land. Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1995, ISBN 3-7700-1038-8 .
  • Markus Eckstein: Water Quintet: Where the Wipper becomes the Wupper. Bachem 2010. ISBN 3-7616-2363-1 .

Web links

Commons : Wupper  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Wupper  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Topographic map 1: 25,000
  2. ^ German basic map 1: 5000
  3. River Geographic Information System of Wupperverbandes (query on August 25, 2011)
  4. a b Topographical Information Management, Cologne District Government, Department GEObasis NRW ( Notes )
  5. State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection North Rhine-Westphalia (Ed.): German Hydrological Yearbook Rhine Region, Part III . ISSN  0170-9976 , p. 222 (annually).
  6. ELWAS-WEB: level data Opladen
  7. MQ values ​​of the gauges Opladen (Wupper above Dhünn) and Manfort (Dhünn), increased by the runoff of the remaining catchment area (42 km², 5% of the total EZG), set at 5 l / s km²
  8. wiki.gdi-de.org: Contribution_Wille_Wupperverband.pdf
  9. wippen, vb., Dialect also wüppen, wuppen. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 30 : WilbHyssop - (XIV, 2nd section). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1960, Sp. 517-520 ( woerterbuchnetz.de ).
  10. Elfriede Ulbricht: The river basin of the Thuringian Saale . 1st edition. Max Niemeyer, Halle (Saale) 1957.
  11. Felix Solmsen: Indo-European proper names as a mirror of cultural history . Ed .: Ernst Fraenkel. 1st edition. Carl Winter, Heidelberg 1922.
  12. Water directory of the State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection NRW 2010 (XLS; 4.67 MB) ( Notes )
  13. Peter Wagner: The Wupper. Retrieved November 21, 2018 .
  14. Peter Kempf, Hermann-Josef Dahm: Wippera - Wipper - Wupper. (PDF) Heimatverein Wipperfürth, accessed on November 20, 2018 .
  15. Map services of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation ( information )
  16. ^ "Wupper" nature reserve (GM-004) in the specialist information system of the State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection in North Rhine-Westphalia
  17. Various authors: Geographische Landesaufnahme: The natural spatial units in single sheets 1: 200,000 . Federal Institute for Regional Studies, Bad Godesberg 1952–1994. → Online maps
    • Sheet 108/109: Düsseldorf / Erkelenz (Karlheinz Paffen, Adolf Schüttler, Heinrich Müller-Miny 1963; 55 p.) → online map (PDF; 7.3 MB)
    • Sheet 110: Arnsberg (Martin Bürgener 1969; 80 p.) → online map (PDF; 5.7 MB)
  18. Herbert Nicke : Forgotten ways: the historical network of long-distance routes between the Rhine, Weser, Hellweg and Westerwald, its protective systems and junctions.
  19. ^ Wupperverband (ed.): Wupperweg . Self-published, Wuppertal May 2005, p. 4 ( magaschuetz.de [PDF; 1,2 MB ]).
  20. Bettina Heinen-Ayech and Ulrike Friedrichs: Erwin Bowien (1899-1972) Catalog Raisonné - Werkoverzicht. Ed .: Bettina Heinen-Ayech. U-Form Verlag, Solingen 1999, ISBN 3-88234-103-3 .
  21. reichstagsprotocol.de
  22. NRW environmental data on site at uvo.nrw.de
  23. Wupper renaturation in the Kohlfurth starts on September 2, 2019. In: wuppertaler-rundschau.de . September 2, 2019, accessed September 3, 2019 .
  24. Declaration ( memento of November 18, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) on the private website wuppertalsperre.net
  25. Die Wupper - The Film ( Memento from July 22, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  26. Die Wupper - Amazonas im Bergisches Land ( Memento from May 15, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), broadcast on May 11, 2010, on the Westdeutscher Rundfunk website