Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

Knowledge of timber rafting on the Upper Drava

Applicant: Oberdrautaler Flößer (Verein)
Province: Carinthia
Domain: Practices concerning nature
Year of inclusion: 2014

Up into the 20th century, the river Drava served Carinthia as an important west-east transport route. Specifically, it served sawmills and, from the 17th century onward, cellulose factories, for which reason it became known as the “Carinthian Wood Road.” The earliest documentation of freight transport on the Drava is from 1209. From Upper Carinthia, logs and sawn wood, iron products, and other goods were transported downriver using timber rafts. These rafts were tied together using “Wieden” (twisted hazel branches) as well as ring hooks made of iron. They were 21.5 m long, 4.5 m wide, they usually featured two rudders at the front and one in back, and were piloted by two men. The knowledge of this technique of raft lashing and piloting continues to be passed down to younger generations to this day, with six villages each building one such raft each; these rafts are then piloted down the last remaining free-flowing stretch of the Drava in Austria.