The High Rhine begins at the outflow of the Rhine from the Untersee in Stein am Rhein and turns into the Upper Rhine in Basel. In contrast to the Alpine Rhine and Upper Rhine, the High Rhine flows mostly to the west.
The section is marked by Rhine-kilometers 0 to 165, measurements beginning at the outflow of the Obersee at the Old Rhine Bridge in Constance. It is the first of four sections (High Rhine, Upper Rhine, Middle Rhine, Lower Rhine) of the Rhine between Lake Constance and the North Sea. In Switzerland, similar names refer to different parts. In the western part, the Rhine marks the border between German and Switzerland, while in the eastern part, Switzerland owns also areas north of the Rhine, surrounding the German exclave of Büsingen.
The term High Rhine was introduced by scientists in the 19th Century. Above all geologists tried to differentiate the High Rhine linguistically from the Upper Rhine. Until the 19th Century, it was also known as the "Badisch-Swiss Rhine".
Waterfalls and rapids
The Rhine Falls, which are the largest plain waterfalls of Europe, are located in the municipalities of Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Laufen-Uhwiesen, near the town of Schaffhausen. They are 150 m (450 ft) wide and 23 m (75 ft) high. In the winter months, the average water flow is 250 m³/s, while in the summer, the average water flow is 600 m³/s.
The rapids in the High Rhine should be viewed in the context of the relatively high slope (from 395 m to 252 m above sea level in just 165 km) and the change of the river's course during the Würm ice age. In Neuhausen am Rheinfall, the river falls into a previously buried stream channel, forming the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen. The next rapids are the Kadelburg Rapids at Koblenz. Near Laufenburg, the post-glacial Rhine failed to find the old silted-up channel and hit a spur of Black Forest crystal. The river cut itself a gorge, containing the Laufenburg Rapids. The Laufenburg and Schwörstadt Rapids have been artificially eliminated by blowing up the rocks and raising the water level with dams.
The character of the river has been changed over long distances by the construction of hydropower station. The Laufenburg and Schwörstadt Rapids were removed by blowing up rocks, originally to improve navigation, and later flooded due to the hydropower dams.
Between Diessenhofen and Stein am Rhein, the High Rhine has yet to be dammed. The first power plant of the Rhine river is currently at Schaffhausen; it has a damming effect to slightly above Diessenhofen. The next power plant (the Kraftwerk Reckingen) is located at Rekingen and Küssaberg. After Rekingen, the High Rhine flows freely through the Koblenz Rapids to the confluence with the Aar. The next hydropower plant (the Kraftwerk Albbruck-Dogern), is at Leibstadt and Dogern. There are seven more power plant between here and Basel. Altogether, the High Rhine has elven dams and twelve hydropower plants (there are two plants at the Augst/Wyhlen Dam.
Some parts of the High Rhine valley are fairly wide; others are more gorge-like. The population density varies accordingly. Well known towns on the High Rhine are Stein am Rhein, Schaffhausen, Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Waldshut, Laufenburg, Bad Säckingen Rheinfelden and Basel.
It is noteworthy that the Aar with 590 m³/s has a larger discharge than the Rhine with 439 m³/s. From hydrological point of view, therefore, the Rhine is a tributary of the River Aar, not vice versa. The Rhine is, however, generally condidered the main stream, because it is slightly longer than the Aar.
Numerous areas along the High Rhine are currently, or were historically considered important. From west to east, they are Dinkelberg, Augstgau, Fricktal, Tabel Jura, Albgau, Aargau, Hotzenwald, Klettgau, Zurzibiet, Zürichgau and Thurgau.
Authorities on the Baden-Württemberg side of the river are organized in a framework called Regionalverband Hochrhein-Bodensee ("Regional cooperation High Rhine — Lake Constance").
- Andreas Gruschke: Der Hochrhein. Eine alemannische Flusslandschaft. Schillinger, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1995, ISBN 3-89155-183-5
- This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rheinfall.|
- Rhine Falls homepage
- Photographs of the Rhine Falls
- Spanish guide
- High Rhine:Pictures
- High Rhine Commission and High Rhine Agency
- Reinhard Valenta: Eine Landschaft im Wandel; Der Hochrhein zwischen Waldshut und Rheinfelden. in: Bosch, M. A. Enderle, H. Fricker & R. Valenta: Der Hochrhein. G.Braun Verlag, Karlsruhe, 1997, p.6-29
- The town of Rekingen on the Swiss side of the river spells its name with -k-; the village on the German side spells its name with -ck-; since the power station is on the German side, it uses the -ck- spelling