Ferries belong and are a tradition of the city of Basel.
4 Ferries are still operating“Wilde Maa”, “Leu”, “Vogel Gryff” and “Ueli”, (All named from the history of Basel.) with which you can cross the Rhine without motorised assistance, using only the natural power of the river's current.The Rhine ferries are not just a special experience for tourists, but also a convenient mode of transport for locals and commuters.
Basel has some major bridges over the Rhine connecting Gross Basel with Klein Basel.
The history of the Basel ferries dates back to the 19th century. The first ferry operated between Harzgraben and Waisenhaus from 1854 until the opening of the Wettstein Bridge in 1877. A few ferries still perform their duty as «flying bridges» as they were described in an initial project dating from 1848.
The ferry is a close relative of the traditional "Weidling" or pontoon boat, in as much as they both rely on the force of the river for their motion, a relatively old form of transport.
The ferries still look the same as in the olden days.Perhaps some of the materials to build the ferries might be different today.
The History of the Ferries
Up until the middle of the 19th century there was only one
way to get from Grossbasel to Kleinbasel and vice versa—
the Mittlere Brücke that had been built in 1225. To remedy
this limitation and at least improve pedestrian traffic
across the river, one of Basel’s council men, Johann Jacob im
Hof-Forcat, asked the government of the canton Basel Stadt in
1854 to approve the installation of a ferry where you find the
Wettsteinbrücke today. The council man, who was also president
of the Basler Künstlergesellschaft (Basel’s Artists’ Society),
suggested that the proceeds should be used to fund a building
to house meetings and exhibitions organized by the society.
The proposal was approved, and in the same year the first ferry,
called “Rheinmücke” (Rhine mosquito), started its service. It
remained in service until 1877, when the Wettsteinbrücke was
built in its stead; however, in the same year a new ferry was
installed just a bit further down the river—today’s MünsterFähre.
And before the “Rheinmücke” ceased operations, it did
achieve the goal of its planners to raise funds for a building for
the Artists’ Society. Over the second half of the 19th century,
three additional ferries joined the original one.