Ferries in Basel

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ouncellor Jakob im Hof (1815-1900), who was the chairman of the art's society of Basel for 25 years, had the idea of constructing a ferry which hangs on a wire-rope. The first ferry, called "Rheinmücke", was used between the Harzgraben and the orphanage towards the end of 1854 up to 1877, where today stands the Wettstein-bridge. In 1862, a second ferry was built in order to connect the Totentanz with the Kaserne (barracks). Theses ferries not only turned out to be very profitable (with the money, the art gallery, opened in 1872, could be financed), but they were also the most important union between Kleinbasel (smaller Basel) and Grossbasel (greater Basel), besides the very few existing bridges. Consequently, more ferries had to be installed.
In 1877, a ferry between the Minster and the Riehentorstrasse was installed. In 1894 another one between St.Alban's gate and the hospital for children. And in 1895 the last between the slaugterhouse and the Offenburgstrasse. The later, however, was discontinued from 1934 until 1989. During the first century, the ferries of Basel served almost 26 million people as a means of transport. The names of the ferries dieffered a lot from place to place (Kleinbasel or Grossbasel). That's why in 1944, the art's society organized a competition in order to find new names for the ferries. Hundreds of suggestions were made. The jury, however, decided in favour of the three honorable guilds of Kleinbasel.

Thus, the following names emerged:

St. Albansfähre"Wilde Maa" (wild man)
Münsterfähre"Leu" (lion)
Klingentalfähre"Vogel Gryff" (fabulous bird of Basel)
Birsfelderfähre (1853-1950)"Ueli"
St. Johannsfähre (from 1989 onwards)"Ueli"

However, the geographical term is ususally more popular among people of Basel. Despite repeated political incidents the ferries remaind in private property. However, from 1936 onwards, more and more ferries were given to the actual ferrymen.
From 1974 onwards, the "Verein der Freunde der Basler Fähren" (friends-of-the-ferries-of-Basel society) is concerned about this means of transport.
In 1984, a no longer useful "Vogel Gryff"-ferry was handed over to the museum of transport in Lucern.

Written by Claude Furer