Today in Transportation History – 1859: A German-Swiss Bridge Across the Rhine

A new railway bridge, crossing the Rhine between the city of Waldshut (present-day Waldshut-Tiengen) in the Kingdom of Württemberg (now part of southwestern Germany) and the community of Koblenz in northern Switzerland, was officially opened. The Waldshut-Koblenz Rhine Bridge, which was built to carry the Turgi-Koblenz-Waldshut Railway over one of Europe’s major rivers, had the distinction of being the first railway bridge installed over the section of the Rhine that lies below Lake Constance.

Robert Gerwig, 1820-1885

The bridge was designed by civil engineer Robert Gerwig, who also managed its construction. During the course of his prodigious career, Gerwig went from building roads to developing railway infrastructure. Along with making the Waldshut-Koblenz Rhine Bridge a reality, he served as one of the leading designers of the Black Forest Railway in the Kingdom of Württemberg and helped create the Gotthard Railway in Switzerland. The energetic Gerwig also found time to amass a large personal collection of clocks that can now be seen at the German Clock Museum in the city of Furtwangen im Schwarzwald.

The Waldshut-Koblenz Rhine Bridge remains in operation today, and it is one of the few lattice truss bridges – structures characterized by small and closely spaced diagonal components – to be found anywhere in Europe.

For more information on the Waldshut-Koblenz Rhine Bridge, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldshut–Koblenz_Rhine_Bridge.

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