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PS Unterwalden : 2008 was the last chance to see her prior to her major rebuild

The poor condition of Unterwalden's boiler, only installed in 1985, has led to the need to withdraw her after the 2008 season. Not only a replacement boiler, but numerous new hull plates and complete new wooden decking are required before she can return to service.


When PS Unterwalden was withdrawn from service on lake Lucerne in 1975 and held in reserve, paddle steamer enthusiasts wondered what the future held for the 1902-built vessel. When the SGV announced in 1977 that she was to be disposed of (and a new motor vessel was given her name), Switzerland's first major preservation campaign rolled into action. Local enthusiasts had first roused when Wilhelm Tell had been withdrawn and was saved as a floating restaurant. This time the objective was to persuade the SGV to refurbish Unterwalden for operational service. The campaign was successful and between 1982 and 1985 the SGV renovated the ship - but only with direct financial support from concerned individuals and the "Dampferfreunde" organisation. Those who contributed were commemorated on the panel, shown left, displayed on Unterwalden's upper deck.
Now, in 2008, another refurbishment is essential, with a new boiler being the most important requirement to meet safety standards. Nowadays, the SGV is totally sympathetic to maintaining its paddler fleet intact, but outside help is still called for. It is possible that the ship will be returned to closely resemble its traditional pre-1961 look, in a plan proposed by the Dampferfreunde, and the extra cost of this will have to be raised by public subscription.


In 1961, Unterwalden received a major overhaul and emerged, alongside paddle steamer Uri, not only with hydraulically-retractable funnel and wheelhouse to allow them to pass into the Alpnachersee under the new Aschereggbrucke, but with a heavy-looking fixed aluminium canopy above the upper deck. This rather unsightly addition, which was enclosed on Unterwalden during her 1982-85 refit, was removed from Uri went in for a major overhaul in 1991- and will be removed from Unterwalden if the decision is taken to restore her as afar as possible to her pre-1961 appearance, as has been promoted by the local steamer friends' association.

Unterwalden is seen left at Kussnacht, not a regular steamer call, on 15th August 1999.

Click here for more photos of Unterwalden


Unterwalden's enclosed upper deck provides an attractive cafeteria area for first class passengers. However, from afar, it detracts from the profile of the vessel and in the view of many "purists", should be changed during the forthcoming re-fit. Enthusiasts are hoping that the SGV will follow the example of PS Uri and find a solution which allows the ship to continue to benefit from an enclosed upper deck whilst reverting to a more traditional look.

Click here to have a look around Unterwalden

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