Some Rivers Freeze

Taking advantage of the gorgeous if icy weather, I went hiking in the woods yesterday. Driving past Warwer Sand, a popular hiking spot in the area, I noticed that plenty of other people had the same idea. But my own preferred hiking spot, a piece of woodland called Westermark, wasn’t overcrowded. I saw maybe two or three people while out hiking.

Afterwards, I drove down to the river Weser at Dreye. The so-called “harbour of Dreye”, an dead river arm used as a marina during summer, was completely frozen and a couple of brave souls were ice-skating.

There were a few ice floats drifting on the Weser, but the Weser itself doesn’t freeze. The annual ice bet hasn’t been won since 1946, though my father reports that he was able to cross the Weser with his car in Dreye, i.e. at the very same spot where I was yesterday, sometime in the early 1960s. And there isn’t a bridge at this spot.

The reason why the Weser doesn’t freeze is the high salt content due to alkali salt mines in Sachsen-Anhalt. Though it’s kind of depressing that the salt content still hasn’t come down twenty years after the unification, since shoddy environmental standards in what was then East Germany were blamed for the high salt content in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, the river Elbe some one hundred kilometers to the North of us remains unaffected by alkali salt mines and is more or less frozen. Shipping has been suspended from Hamburg on down, though they’re probably taking measures to keep the port of Hamburg accessible. The photo that goes with the article shows the same spot is one of the rotating header images on this site, by the way, the view across the Elbe at the Blohm + Voss dock. It’s also the header image at the ABC Buhlert site.

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