Adventurous route to work
Voehringen workers were long dependent on the Iller ferry
For decades, Wieland employees who came from the other side of the river Iller only reached their workplace at the Vöhringen plant by ferry. Their employer kept the fares low by subsidising the ferryman and ensured that the ferry was operated at night. It was not until 1928 that a bridge made the often overcrowded ferry superfluous.
For decades, Wieland employees who came from the other side of the river Iller only reached their workplace at the Vöhringen plant by ferry. Their employer kept the fares low by subsidising the ferryman and ensured that the ferry was operated at night. It was not until 1928 that a bridge made the often overcrowded ferry superfluous.The fact that Philipp Jakob Wieland bought a mill in Vöhringen in 1864, located on a tributary of the river Iller, and used water power to expand it into a factory, also had one disadvantage: at that time the Iller and its tributaries meandered unregulated through the floodplains to the west of Vöhringen. Therefore there was no bridge over the rapidly flowing, water-rich and often overflowing mountain river. Instead, a small ferry connected the bank located in Württemberg with the Bavarian side in Vöhringen.
Since the town had been connected to the railway network in 1862, the number of ferry users increased considerably; many people travelled by train to Ulm to work after crossing over. Then Wieland set up its Voehringen plant, and over the course of time more and more people from the Württemberg community of Illerrieden worked there – they only got to work on the Iller ferry.
A custom that reached its limits with the introduction of shift work at Wieland. In 1895, the company therefore concluded a contract with the ferryman Josef Kast, in which he undertook "to ferry the workers and employees of the company Wieland & Co. in Voehringen at any time of the year, provided that ice drift and an unusually high water level do not make ferrying appear dangerous, in the hours from 4 o'clock in the morning to 9 o'clock at night against the maximum amount of 4 pfennigs per person & trip in both directions to be paid to the ferryman".
In addition, it was agreed that the ferryman would make his ferry available to Wieland "with rolling stock" between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. so that a Wieland employee could carry out the ferry service during this time. To make these arrangements palatable to the ferry operator, he received an annual "compensation" of 50 marks from Wieland. This contract was renewed in 1917 with the widow of ferryman Kast – she also had to provide the night-time operating personnel, but received 80 marks a year in return.
In 1924 – probably because of overloading - a sensational accident happened: the ferry capsized and sank. As if by a miracle, no one was hurt. Nevertheless, the accident was the initial spark for the long-delayed construction of a bridge, which was completed in 1928. The days of the Iller ferry, which was just as rich in tradition as it was decrepit at that time, were thus numbered.
Copyright: Foto-Studio Heim, Vöhringen