More German Drains


Along the Rhine - near the Loreley

Loreley Rock is situated in one of the most beautiful spots on the Rhine. And while the tourists visit the only these well-known spots, there are other nice sights in this area. For example: notice the old railroad tunnel on the left bank ...

In July 1999 I went on a short family holiday in Germany. We stayed in a small village (Trechtinghausen) on the banks of the Rhine. In this hilly area many brooks flow down the slopes to the river. In many places they pass through villages and under houses and streets. Sometimes they are only 50m but some might be several hundreds of meters.

Drains and tunnels waiting to be explored

A railroad and a highway run on both sides of the river. They cross all the brooks. An extensive system of tunnels, underpasses, culverts and drains has been built here. I didn't look for the best drains, I just picked the first ones I saw. So maybe there are even more spectacular ones.

This is a short, double tunnel that runs under the road and the railroad. Here you see the entrance from the gravel beach on the east bank of the river. It's situated near the milestone 522. This indicates the distance from the river-source in kilometers.

This tunnel carries these enigmatic codes (long live my trusted notebook, I always carry it with me):
  • DZ-026-5812 579/2
  • 1,76 - 3,79 - 1,83 - 3,86 - 1,88

It is only a short one, but it has all the features of the mature Australian drains. Here you see a small slide.

And it also has some nice shape changes. This is the point where the road and the railroad-embankment meet. The railroad is much older than the road. It was built between 1859 and 1890. It has round, masonry arches.

A detail of the shape & material change. And of course the inevitable artificial dripstones!

The longest drain I found

This one is situated in the village of Kaub, on the east bank.

You have to downstream from the ferry-landing, past the monument, until you see this conspicuous entrance.

Just after I entered the drain a tourist-boat called the "Loreley" sailed by. I simply had to take this kitschy picture.

About 30m inside the drain. It continues on for a long time. I couldn't see the endpoint. It doesn't surface anywhere in the village, so it must go on for a long, long time.

Again there were several changes of shape and material.

The amount of water was negligible, but I saw some large wooden logs inside. During the rainy season it could be an unpleasant place.

Interesting old train tunnels

According to the aesthetic codes of the 19th century the train tunnels had to be decorated. They could not simply show their technical function. The motifs for the decoration were taken from the old castles that abound in this area.

The little tower is accessible by the stairs leading up the embankment. Then there is a ladder that leads up into the higher floors of the tower. A sign says: "Warning - life wires 5m above the rails". Entering the train tunnel probably is suicide, trains speed by every 5 minutes. But it's a pity I didn't have time to explore the tower more thoroughly.

Drains galore ....

This drain in the village of Bacharach starts under the railroad, then it emerges in the middle of the village. I didn't go in. It carries a lot of water and you would need rubber boots. The village of Niederheimbach - In the first picture you're looking downstream, towards the river. The round brick tunnel is (as always) the oldest part of the drain. It runs under the railway. The square concrete tunnel is a lot younger and it runs under the road up into the village center. I didn't go in too far, my son (8 years) was afraid of going deeper. So we followed the drain above-ground by listening for water-sounds under manholes. We discovered the other end at the other side of the village where it disappears underground in a 50 cm round steel pipe.

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Petr Kazil - 5 March 2000