The search for the locomotive “Rhein”

The search for the locomotive “Rhein”

Over 160 years ago, near Germersheim the steam locomotive "Rhein" sank into the river Rhine

The locomotive was built in 1852 in Karlsruhe by the Maschinenbau-Gesellschaft Emil Keßler for the Düsseldorf – Elberfelder Eisenbahngesellschaft. The sailing vessel “Stadt Coblenz”, which was used for transport on the river Rhine, got caught in a heavy storm near the town of Germersheim and the load slipped and the locomotive sank. Two attempts to lift the locomotive failed, after which salvage operations were discontinued. Since then, the locomotive has been lying under the current or former riverbed of the river Rhine, probably hermetically sealed, waiting to be released from its slumber.

Redrawing of the locomotive according to historical sources and comparative drawings of other locomotives.

Excavations remain without result ...

In 1992, after many years of research, the first concrete research work began on behalf of Horst Müller, a retired engine driver from Cochem, who was looking for a partner for the project and was immediately able to win our attention. Thanks to the cooperation with the geophysicist Prof. Bernhard Forkmann, it was possible to determine the location of the locomotive in the Rhine near Germersheim with a high degree of probability using the latest technology. The unique treasure hunt project attracted more and more media interest after the first solid data on the location and condition of the locomotive became known in 2014.

The official recovery was scheduled for 21 October 2018. After several weeks of intensive excavations, however, no locomotive was found (see press report). The disappointment of all involved was accordingly great. The project should be declared a failure at this point.

... but the search goes on!

After the initial shock was overcome, measurements and analyses of the excavated material were carried out and summarised in a results report. Despite the setback and especially because of the great public support, the project is being continued. Currently, the most suitable options for continuing the search are being identified. After a successful recovery, the locomotive “Rhein” would after all be the oldest preserved steam locomotive in Germany and should then be exhibited as a permanent loan of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in the Railway Museum Darmstadt-Kranichstein.

For a successful continuation of the exciting search, we continue to be grateful – in addition to moral encouragement – for any financial support on your part. For this purpose, our special donations account is at your disposal:

Sparkasse Darmstadt, IBAN: DE68 5085 0150 0000 7714 30

Representing the treasure hunters (from left to right): Horst Müller, retired engine driver; Uwe Breitmeier, museum director of Bahnwelt Darmstadt-Kranichstein in front of a model of the locomotive "Rhein".
Many thanks for your contribution to the search for the locomotive in the Rhine!

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