WESER (6. Ger. Visuracha, Wisura, Lat. Visurgis), one of the chief rivers of Germany, formed by the union of the Werra and the Fulda at Miinden, in the Prussian province of Hanover, flowing generally north and entering the North Sea. below Bremerhaven, between Jade Bay and the estuary of the Elbe. The mouth is 170 m. from Miinden, but the winding course of the river is 270 m. long; if the measurement be made from the source of the Werra, in the Thuringer Wald, the total length of the stream is 440 m. At Miinden the river surface is 380 ft. above sea-level; the most rapid fall in its course is between Karlshafen and Minden in Westphalia. Nearly the entire course of the Weser lies in Prussia, but it also touches part of Brunswick and Lippe, and after flowing through Bremen expands into an estuary separating the duchy of Oldenburg from the Prussian province of Hanover. Between Miinden and Minden its course lies through a picturesque valley flanked by irregular and disjointed ranges of hills (Reinhardswald, Sollinger Wald, Weser Hills, etc.); but after it emerges from these mountains by the narrow pass called the " Porta Westfalica," near Minden, its banks become flat and uninteresting. The breadth of the river varies from no yds. at Miinden to 220 yds. at Minden, 250 yds. at Bremen, ij m. at Elsfleth and 75 m. at its entrance into the sea.
The Weser on the whole is shallow, and navigation above Bremen is sometimes interrupted by drought. Until 1894 the fairway up to Bremen had a minimum depth of little over 8 ft.; thereafter important works were undertaken, the minimum depth was made 18 ft., and the importance of Bremen as a port was greatly enhanced. Boats of 350 tons can ascend generally as far as Miinden. A system of waterways (the Geeste and Hadelncr canals, meeting one another at Bederkesa) connects the estuary of the Weser with that of the Elbe; a canal between the Hunte and the Leda gives connexion with the Ems. On the upper Weser (above Bremen) the navigation, which is interrupted by occasional rapids, is assisted by locks and weirs. The principal tributaries on the right are the Aller, Wiimme, Drepte, Lune and Geeste, and on the left the Diemel, Nethe, Emmer, Werra, Aue and Hunte. The Werra and Fulda are both navigable when they unite to form the Weser, the Fulda being canalized between Cassel and the town of Fulda for a distance of 17 J m.; the Alter, Wiimme, Geeste and Hunte are also navigable." Below the junction of the Hunte the Weser, hitherto a single stream, is divided into several channels by islands. The Weser drains a basin est ; *~ J at 18,530 sq. m.
The navigation of the Weser was long hampered by the various and vexatious claims and rights of the different states through whose territories it ran. Before 1866 the joint stream, including the Werra and the Fulda, changed its ruler no less than thirty-five times on its way to the sea. In 1823, however, a treaty was made establishing a fixed toll and a uniform system of management ; this was further improved in 1856 and 1865; and when Prussia took possession of Hanover and Hesse- Nassau in 1866 the chief difficulties in the way of organizing the river-trade disappeared. The principal town on the Weser is Bremen. Other towns past which it flows- between Miinden and the sea are Karlshafen, Hoxter, Holzminden, Bodenwerder, Hameln, Rinteln.Vlotho, Minden, Stolzenau.Nienburg, VV(;t:sack, Elsfleth, Brake, Geestemiinde and Bremerhayen. The Weser gave name to a department in the short-lived kingdom of Westphalia : the chief town was Osnabriick.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)