Waal River

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River Waal is the main distributary branch of river Rhine flowing to the central Netherlands for about 80 km (50 miles) before joining the Meuse near Woudrichem to form the Boven Merwede. It is a major river which serves as the main waterway connecting the Rotterdam harbor and Germany. Nijmegen, Tiel, Zaltbommel and Gorinchem are towns of importance with direct access to the river. The river carries 65% of the total flow of the Rhine.



The name Waal, in Roman times called Vacalis, Vahalis or Valis, later Vahal, is of Germanic origin and is named after the many meanders in the river (Old Germanic: wôh = crooked). It is, in turn, thought to have inspired early Dutch settlers of the Hudson Valley region in New York to name the Wallkill River after it (Waalkil = "Waal Creek").

The current river shows little signs of these great bends, since the river has been the subject of numerous normalisation projects carried out in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries to improve the river as an economically important shipping route. Some of the cut-off bends are still visible near the main river and are sometimes reconnected to it in times of high water levels.

Bend in South Holland

In the Middle Ages, the name "Waal" continued after the confluence with River Meuse. The delta parts now known as Boven Merwede, Beneden Merwede and the upper section of river Noord were also called Waal. Near Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, the main stream continued west until it flowed into River Oude Maas near Heerjansdam. This last stretch past Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, which separates the river islands of IJsselmonde and Zwijndrechtse Waard, still is called Waal[1]. It has been dammed off at both ends.

River crossings

Railroad bridges

Railroad bridges (with nearest train station on the left and right bank):

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