The river Rhein (Rhine) has been treidelt upstream since the 8th Century. Labourers (Treidlers) pulled the ship from the banks with long ropes, which were fixed to the mast at the front side.
Treidel paths and treidel serving was well organized over several regions.
In addition to that, some ships were poled with long poles. Fork shaped iron shoes can be found around Speyer.
For upstream driving, the treidelei was necessary, when sailing was impossible because of too calm winds or not enough rigging. According to the statutes of the individual river regions, seven to ten men (or horses) were required for a load of 10 to 15 tons. Treideln was already known in Roman times, though only mentioned 1180 in Cologne. On the northern part of the upper Rhein, treideln was the first time proven in 1385, in fact in Nieder-Ingelheim.
Above of Speyer at Schröck (today Leopoldshafen, opposite of Germersheim, direction Sondernheim - Hoerdt-Leimersheim ), where the Rhine changed its run frequently, neither men made or other forms of Treidel-paths were provided.
Here people treidelt by wading through shallow water, near the riverbanks.
The struggles of the Treidelers in middle ages and even modern times validated again the suits of the skippers about the bad state of the Leinpfade, which mostly were only small wooden log boardwalks. (pic 9 and 11 )
For the treideln of 2000 Zentner freight (app. 1000 kg ) ten to twelve horses were needed. This you can see in a view of Bingen from Matthaeus Merian ( copper engraving about 1645 ). Pic. 10
On some routes more than 200 people were required for the treideln of a ship.
(Excerpts from the book ”Stadt am Strom - Speyer und der Rhein” from Prof. Dr. Guenther Stein, Speyer, Zechner 1989, ISBN 3-89928-5 . Thanks to Mrs. Stein for her friendly permission. The following pictures are from this book)