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Title: Eder  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Schwalm (Eder), Operation Chastise, Edersee Dam, Chatti, Riesenstein (Wolfershausen)
Collection: Eder Basin, Rivers of Hesse, Rivers of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rivers of Siegerland
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The Eder in Edersee when the lake dried out in 2003
Map of the Eder, its tributaries and water catchment area
Native name Eder
Other name Edder
Origin Ederkopf
Mouth Edermünde
Progression FuldaWeserNorth Sea
Basin countries Germany
Location North Rhine-Westphalia-Hesse
Etymology Adrana-Aderna-Adarna-Adrina-Edder-Eder
Length 177 km (110 mi)
Source elevation 634 m (2,080 ft)
Mouth elevation 142 m (466 ft)
Avg. discharge 23.8 m3/s (840 cu ft/s) at mouth
Basin area 3,362 km2 (1,298 sq mi)
River system Weser
Left tributaries main: Odeborg, Orke, Ems. see also below
Right tributaries main: Nuhne, Wesebach, Schwalm. see also below

The Eder is a 177-kilometre (110 mi) long major river in North Germany that begins in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia and passes in to Hesse, where it confluences with the River Fulda.


  • History 1
  • Gold in the Eder 2
  • Course 3
  • Edersee Dam 4
  • Tributaries of the Eder 5
  • References 6


The river was first mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus. In his Annals,[1] he describes the Roman campaign against the Chatti under the command of Germanicus in 15 AD. Forty-five thousand soldiers of the Roman army destroyed the major centre of the Chatti, Mattium,[2] directly after they crossed the Adrana (Eder).

In the Middle Ages, the river was known by the names; Aderna, Adarna, Adrina.[3]

On the banks of the Eder, in the town of Schwarzenau, near Bad Berleburg, a religious group was founded in August 1708; the Schwarzenau Brethren. Eight adults were completely baptised thrice in the Eder. This group emigrated to America where they are still to be found.[4]

As late as up to the end of the 19th Century, the river was also known in local dialect as Edder. For instance, in Felsberg-Gensungen, the pharmacy is known as the Edder-Apotheke.

Gold in the Eder

Sediments of the Eder contain a proportion of gold. The majority of this gold is said to originate from Eisenberg (Korbach), which contains one of the largest reserves of gold in Middle Europe.[5] Gold is eroded out of the Eisenberg, for example, by the Itter stream, which, since the Edersee dam was built, flows into the Edersee lake.

Gold panning in the Eder has been known since 1308.[6] The main historical area for panning the gold is between Affoldern and Fritzlar.[7][8] In the 14th Century, the Teutonic Order panned gold out of the Eder sediments near Obermöllrich.[9] In the 18th Century, even ducats were minted from Eder gold; they are collector's items today.[10]

Up to the 1970s, school children from Duisburg, who stayed at a nearby holiday camp, together with a teacher from Marienhagen, part of the town of Vöhl, went panning for gold in the sediments of the River Itter. Panning for gold along the Eder is still popular.[11]


The river rises from the Ederkopf mountain in the Rothaar mountain range in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia, near the springs of the Lahn and Sieg rivers. However, unlike the Lahn and Sieg, which are both tributaries of the Rhine, the Eder flows east and north, into the river Fulda at Edermünde, south of Kassel. The Fulda then confluences with the Werra River at Hann. Münden to form the Weser River, which flows in to the North Sea.

Course of the River Eder
River profile of the Eder

Edersee Dam

The Edersee Dam is situated below the town of Waldeck. It is constructed of rock and concrete and is 47 metres (154 ft) high, and 400 metres (1,300 ft) long. It was completed in 1914; in 2014 its 100th birthday was celebrated.[12] It formed the Edersee lake, which is 27 kilometres (17 mi) long and contains 200 million cubic metres of water. This is used to generate hydroelectricity and to regulate water levels for shipping on the Weser river.

On the night of the 17 May 1943, Avro Lancaster bombers of the RAF 617 Squadron used specially-developed bouncing bombs that were engineered by Barnes Wallis to destroy the dam, as part of Operation Chastise.[13] The dam was repaired and in use again before the end of the year. The story of the raid was documented by the 1955 film called The Dam Busters.

Tributaries of the Eder

The Eder at Goddelsbach (Erndtebrück)
The Eder near to Frankenberg
The Eder in the Edersee at low water near Asel
The sandstone bridge over the Eder between Altenbrunslar und Neuenbrunslar
The Eder (right) confluences near Grifte in to the Fulda (from back right to left)

The most important tributaries of the Eder are (listed first in Eder-kilometres from source to the Fulda):

Name orographic order length
Drainage basin
(discharge rate; l/s)
mouth elevation
(m ü. NHN)
German river numbering system
Wähbach right 6.0 6.717 6.9 514 428-112
Benfe right 11.2 19.446 11.9 479 428-114
Elberndorfer Bach left 9.0 10.733 13.6 470 428-118
Röspe left 8.6 37.013 17.7 450 428-12
Kappel left 7.3 27.443 21.8 431 428-132
Preisdorf right 6.0 8.506 14.2 425 428-1334
Trüfte left 9.7 16.576 27.1 413 428-134
Altmühlbach right 5.3 14.459 27.9 410 428-136
Rinther Bach right 6.1 9.12 30.3 406 428-138
Odeborn left 21.2 85.064 31.3 403 428-14
Grundbach rechts 5.1 7.507 33.1 399 428-152
Lützelsbach left 5.6 6.437 34.8 395 428-154
Leisebach right 4.6 12.375 38.7 380 428-156
Arfe left 5.4 5.401 39.6 377 428-158
Lindenhöferbach right 4.1 12.034 189.8 48.9 349 428-1596
Elsoff left 19.0 48.925 948.1 50.0 345 428-16
Eifaer Bach right 4.5 7.211 103.3 54.2 342 428-172
Riedgraben left 7.6 11.319 173.4 69.0 305 428-174
Elbrighäuser Bach left 10.8 17.768 321.3 70.5 301 428-176
Nitzelbach left 10.6 8.397 132.4 73.7 295 428-178
Linspherbach left 18.3 33.107 565.8 77.0 286 428-18
Hainerbach left 7.3 10.132 103.7 80.4 280 428-192
Goldbach left 9.5 13.838 155.8 84.5 273 428-1952
Nemphe right 14.2 38.383 293.5 86.9 270 428-198
Nuhne left 36.9 156.747 2661.6 89.3 267 428-2
Lengelbach right 11.4 25.848 209.9 96.3 255 428-32
Orke left 38.2 278.867 3844.5 97.5 254 428-4
Lorfe right 11.8 24.281 245.7 101.4 250 428-512
Itter* left 11.6 76.131 771.3 105.8 247 428-531
Aselbach* left 6.6 18.103 135.4 112.4 246 428-533
Banferbach* right 7.2 16.383 213.9 115.2 245 428-535
Werbe* left 13.2 42.263 322.6 122.2 245 428-537
Reiherbach* left 7.4 27.322 188.9 122.3 245 428-538
Netze left 12.9 29.04 169.5 134.0 194 428-554
Wesebach right 25.3 63.433 618.2 135.7 191 428-56
Wilde right 17.1 51.868 471.4 140.6 183 428-58
Elbe left 33.7 123.47 731.3 146.2 174 428-6
Schwalm right 97.1 1298.783 9044.5 159.5 158 428-8
Ems left 34.1 146.214 753.3 164.9 151 428-92
Pilgerbach left 8.8 25.593 102.2 175.5 145 428-98
  • rivers that used to flow to the Eder, but now flow in to the Edersee lake.


  1. ^ Tacitus, The Annals 1.56
  2. ^ Guth, Werner (2008). "Mattium – Onomastische Überlegungen zu einem historischen Problem" (PDF). Zeitschrift des Vereins für hessische Geschichte 113: 1–16. Retrieved February 19, 2015. 
  3. ^ Sperber, Rüdiger (1996). "Die Nebenflüsse von Werra und Fulda bis zum Zusammenfluß". Hydronymia Germaniae (Steiner, Wiesbaden). Reihe A, Lief. 5.  
  4. ^ Meier, Marcus (2008). The Origin of the Schwarzenau Brethren. Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc. p. 144. 
  5. ^ Kulick, J. (1998). Goldbergbau am Eisenberg bei Goldhausen. Führungsblatt zu einem Industriedenkmal des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit bei Korbach-Goldhausen, Kreis Waldeck-Frankenberg [Gold mining on the Eisenberg near Goldhausen. Information]. Archäologische Denkmäler in Hessen (in German) 143. Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Hessen,.  
  6. ^ Zerrenner, Carl Michael (1851). Anleitung zum Gold-, Platin- und Diamanten-Waschen aus Seifengebirge, Ufer- und Flussbett-Sand: unter Voraussendung einer geognostischen Charakteristik des die genannten Mineralien führenden Seifengebirges und einer Zusammenstellung verschiedener Ausbeutungsmethoden desselben in verschiedenen Gegenden der Erde (in German). 
  7. ^ Pierer's Universal-Lexikon, Band 1 [Pierer's universal encyclopedia, volume 1] (in German). 1857. p. 155. 
  8. ^ Berghaus, Heinrich Karl Wilhelm (1838). Allgemeine Länder- und Völkerkunde: Nebst einem Abriß der physikalischen Erdbeschreibung, Band 3 [General studies of countries and people: including a shortened version of the physical Earth description, volume 3] (in German). Hoffmann'sche Buckhandlung. p. 34. 
  9. ^ "Obermöllrich, Schwalm-Eder-Kreis" [Obermöllrich, Schwalm-Eder District] (in German). Hessisches Landesamt für geschichtliche Landeskunde. Retrieved 13 Feb 2015. 
  10. ^ Manfred Common. "Eder – Golddukat" [Eder – gold ducats] (in German). Retrieved 13 Feb 2015. 
  11. ^ Veit-Enno Hoffmann. "Goldwelten - Goldsucher" [World of Gold - Gold prospecter] (in German). Retrieved 13 Feb 2015. 
  12. ^ Edersee Touristic GmbH. "100 Jahre Edersee" [100 years of the Edersee] (in German). Retrieved 13 Feb 2015. 
  13. ^ Dildy, Douglas C. (2010). Dambusters; Operation Chastise. Osprey Raid Series No. 16. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. p. 405.  
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