National Geographic : 1925 Jul
REDISCOVERING THE RHINE would have proved a handy weapon in a pinch. "No woman around to bother us!" he grinned, sawing up the sausage with a clasp knife. "Oh, we'll have a fine trip !" INVESTIGATING THE SOURCES OF TWO RIINE LEGENDS Flat Dutch land scape - green mead ows, spotted cattle, and red windmills, neatly "composed," as p ainters say, into ready-made pictures accompanied us all that day. Toward sun set we anchored at Lohith, the last village before crossing the German frontier. The local shops were full of barge skippers, laying in supplies for the long Rhine trip. Among them we rec ognized our man, who, to our dismay, was ac quiring many lengths of hard, smoked sau sage. Then all hands with drew to a near-by Photograph trom Melville Chater PART OF THE STEEL WORKS OF THE DORTMUND UNION, DORT AIUND, EAST OF ESSEN cafe. Here, unlike the landlubbers, who were swallowing small, fiery drams of schnapps in quick succes sion, the skippers yarned for an hour over a glass apiece of sweetish beer, then re turned aboard. Inbedbynine,upbyfive,andadayof endless responsibility on a difficult and often crowded stream-such is the life of the average barge skipper on the Rhine. At Emmerich, where the German offi cials came aboard next morning, a day's delay enabled us to visit the sources of two Rhine legends. At near-by Cleve we paid homage to Lohengrin's monument; for here, says tradition, came the mysterious, swan drawn knight to rescue Elsa from the toils of the usurping Telramund; and from here he departed as mysteriously, via the same Rhine swan service, to furnish an opera libretto for Richard Wagner. The other legend source was at the quaint little town of Xanten. Here is the putative birthplace of Siegfried, the hero of the "Nibelungenlied" epic, and, inci dentally, one of the first Rhine tourists. At the age of 13, Siegfried got that "See Germany-First" impulse and started up stream on his Rhine exploits. With the exception of a trip to Iceland, where he captured and captivated the fire-surrounded Brunhild, all his legen dary adventures took place in the Rhine land, between Xanten and Worms, a dis tance of about 200 miles.