Historisches Lahnstein

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Lahn Valley Bridge

Lahn Valley Bridge

A Unifying Factor

The Lahn has always separated the towns of Oberlahnstein and Niederlahnstein, and for many centuries during the Holy Roman Empire this small river also forms the border between the Electorates of Mainz and Trier. As the two powerful electors and archbishops are constantly fighting for supremacy on the Rhine, border disputes are common.

Only in modern times are the divisions gradually overcome. The 17th century sees a regular ferry service established for the first time between the two riverbanks. This makes it easier to cross the border. When the Duchy of Nassau is founded in 1806 a new state emerges which encompasses both banks of the Lahn. For the first time, the towns of Oberlahnstein and Niederlahnstein both belong to the same territory and people soon become interested in building a bridge to overcome the spatial separation.

In the mid 19th century a railway bridge is built across the Lahn. The first road bridge goes into service in 1873. The planning, financing and upkeep of the bridge repeatedly force both towns to cooperate. The bridge toll which is levied from 1873 to 1927 and from 1945 to 1949 is shared by both communities. The former bridge house with its kiosk still bears witness to this era.

The road bridge has to be rebuilt several times due to wear and tear, increased demand and the destruction of the Second World War. The fourth bridge construction which is still standing today is inaugurated in 1997. It is named after Lahnstein’s honorary citizen Rudi Geil who died in 2006. As a politician, he was always committed to achieving the union of Nieder- and Oberlahnstein. They finally became one town in 1969.

The Baareschesser-Memorial near the Rudi-Geil-Bridge was designed by Fritz Berlin, a former mayor of the town of Oberlahnstein. It recalls the origins of the nickname of the residents of Niederlahnstein. This originated in the days when there was no modern sewage system. In order to keep their groundwater clean, the people of Niederlahnstein did without cesspits and emptied their chamber pots – known in Lahnstein dialect as “Baar” – into the Lahn or emulated the bronze figure. For this reason they were called “Baareschesser” (“pot shitters”) by the people of Oberlahnstein.