Der Rhein - Leben am großen Strom

Shipping, fishing and icy winters on the Rhine

Life and work on the Middle Rhine

The lives of the people on the Middle Rhine have altered radically over the past hundred years. The effects of political and technological change have been profound. Many people from Oberwesel earned their living on the river as long as the old steamboats were still in service. Local businesses profited from the shipping industry as well, for the boats had to moor near the town each evening and the boatmen stocked up on food and supplies there. Today’s boats are equipped with radar and they pass by the town without stopping. The great shipping tradition is now a thing of the past.
Structural change has lead to the loss of many skilled trades. Timber rafting and slate mining – once an important industry in the Rhine Valley – have now disappeared completely. Wine-growing, agriculture, transport and tourism have also been affected.

Icy winters on the Rhine

In centuries past, ice drift often meant disaster for the people living along the Rhine. The museum’s displays vividly illustrate the destructive forces at work in pack ice several metres thick. A film shows the work of the ice-breakers near the Loreley during the last big freeze in 1963.

Delicacies from the Rhine

For many centuries, the best salmon fishing grounds were to be found between St. Goar and Oberwesel. The Rhine salmon was a famous delicacy all over Europe and was caught here in great quantities of the finest quality. Salmon fishing was an important source of income for many Oberwesel families and the state-appointed fish inspector conducted regular fish auctions in the town. In the museum interesting photo documents and a historical film illuminate the history of the salmon fishing industry.

The fine art of model making

There are all sorts of model ships, but the ones on display in our museum are something quite out of the ordinary. Captain Norbert Schmitt from Oberwesel has got model shipbuilding down to a fine art – his models are virtually flawless. Using the shipbuilders’ original plans, he has constructed perfect scale models with an attention to detail which is second to none.