Icy reminder: The time the Rhine froze

February 1929 marked a once-in-a-century event: The Rhine froze over.

Peruse the history of the company with the Corporate History findings.

In February 1929, an extraordinary cold snap meant that temperatures dropped rapidly. On the morning of February 6, the temperature was measured at 1 degree Celsius, however, the temperatures dropped quickly over the course of the following days, with minus 21 degrees Celsius being recorded on February 12.

However, this was just the start: The Rhine froze over, not just at Ludwigshafen, but almost along its entire length. The issues this caused for the site managers and plants – with the interrupted shipping being just one factor – were of no concern to the droves of curious onlookers. Soon, the first trails over the Rhine between Mannheim and Ludwigshafen were stamped out.

The site newspaper at the time reported on the disappearance of the ice on the Rhine:

On February 17, the ice from the canal mouth at Frankenthal to around the middle of the Oppau site began dissipating, probably due to the warmer waste water from our sites…, it took about one week until the entire Rhine section at the Ludwigshafen and Oppau sites was completely free of ice.

BASF site newspaper, February 1929

It took until March 4 before the Rhine was completely open along its entire length.

The events of 1929 had not occurred in that scale for 34 years, with the previous similar event taking place in 1895. And the spectacle has not been repeated since.

Unique witnesses of their time:

Findings from the Corporate History archives

The ice on the Rhine at Ludwigshafen only began melting after a few days, from February 17, 1929 onwards.
o. Neg. Chemiker Rhein_ca. 1929_bearb.jpg
Employees from the main laboratory posing on the frozen Rhine, with the Ludwigshafen site visible in the background.