The largest waterfall in Europe, the mighty cataract known as Rheinfall, was formed in the last great Ice Age about 15,000 years ago. It’s still going strong. This waterfall is 75 feet high and 450 feet wide. Millions of gallons of fresh water flow across the rocks every day.
Located near the town of Schaffhausen near the German border in Northern Switzerland, this is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors board boats that travel to the very edge of the falls, the boat engines straining against the fierce current. Spray fills the air and the boats rock in the turbulent current. It’s pretty cool. If you’ve got the time and are feeling adventurous you can have the boat drop you at a huge rock in the center of the falls and then climb up a narrow stairway to get a view from the middle of the fall.
On the lower side of the falls chub fish can be seen in the clear waters of the Rhine. European chub are pretty much what we would call a carp in the United States. The river is so powerful that fish cannot swim upstream. Eels somehow manage by slithering up the rocks underwater but the fish can’t make it.
Naturally, there’s a healthy tourist industry centered around the falls. Castles, gift shops, the boat rides, even an amusement park are available for those who need more than a natural high from the rushing water.
The falls are about an hour drive from Zurich and you pass through tidy little Swiss villages where nobody seems to be home on the way.
Although the falls are capable of generating more that 50 megawatts of hydro-electric power, the falls have never been tapped. In the 1800s there was a mill and a replica of the old water wheel still churns. Swiss environmentalists, even 200 years ago, have successfully fought to keep the falls free. Kongo thinks that was a good idea.
Travel safe. Have fun!