The old hydro-electric power-plant of Rheinfelden is located 1.5 km up the river Rhine from the City center of Rheinfelden. It started operation in 1898 with an electric power of 10MW. Thus it is the oldest of the major hydroelectric power-plants in Europe located along a riverside. And after the demolition of the Adams Powerhouse No. 1 in Niagara Falls/USA in 1961, it is even the oldest large hydroelectric power-plant world-wide.
Since there is no dam, electricity is produced solely from the energy of the water running down the river Rhine. As you can hear from the recording, even in Midsummer the Rhine is quite powerful here. The eddies near the bridge's pillars are hazardous and people getting caught in them will most certainly drown.
The plant is located on the German bank of the river Rhine. Adjacent to the power-plant there is an old iron footbridge connecting the German and the Swiss sides of the river. An open door on the bridge marks the border between Germany and Switzerland. This bridge is at present an important connection between the two countries for pedestrians and bicyclists.
In 2003 the construction of a new hydro-electric power-plant started only a few hundred meters upwards the river. For this power-plant a huge fish-ladder is needed but apparently it can only be constructed at the site of the old plant. And this is the reason why it is planned to demolish the old power-plant plus the bridge by the end of 2010. When these plans were made public, a citizens' initiative was founded to fight for the preservation of this outstanding historical monument.
What was needed most was a moratorium to produce plans for a new type of fish-ladder that could be constructed partly underneath the old plant. But in June 2010 Julian Würtenberger, the President of the Government for the southern part of Baden finally declined this. So while I hope that this monument will not be forgotten, he will be remembered as the one bringing down this once remarkable monument.
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