ZSG history

ZSG History

Boat trips on Lake Zürich are likely to be about as old as the settlement of its banks, meaning before 4000 BC.


Conversion of the ZSG bearer shares 
into registered shares.


With effect from the start of the summer season
on 30 March, the ZSG surcharge has been cancelled.


The Lake Zurich Navigation Company
introduces a passenger surcharge.

since 2012

On the larger motor vessels from the 1960s, adjustable pitch propellers are replaced by fixed propellers with forward and reverse gears.


The Panta Rhei motor vessel is the most modern boat to join the ZSG fleet and will enter into service all-year-round.


The Glärnisch motor vessel, dating from 1955, is sold and is now moored as a restaurant boat in Wädenswil harbour.


The ZSG acquires two new identically constructed motor vessels the Forch and Zimmerberg are acquired to improve cross-traffic services on the lake.

1997 - 1999

The Albis, Pfannenstiel and Üetliberg - three almost identical panoramic boats - are launched on Lake Zurich, almost doubling passenger capacity. They replace the Halbinsel Au, Möve and Speer vessels dating from the Swiss National Exhibition of 1939. These are sold to the Netherlands and Belgium.

1992 - 1993

The three River Limmat boats - the Felix, Regula and Turicum - enter into service. They replace the three Amsterdam-style canal boats acquired in 1959.


The Lake Zurich Navigation Company is integrated into the network of the Zurich Public Transport Association (ZVV).

1983 / 1984

The ZSG constructs a new dockyard at Zurich-Wollishofen. Impressive focal point of the dockyard is the boat lift with a load carrying capacity of 440 tons - the first and to this day still the only lift of its kind in Switzerland.

1970 / 1972

The private "Pro Paddle Steamer" society campaigns to prevent the decommissioning of the Stadt Rapperswil (now nearly 60 years old). Under pressure from the public, the Lake Zurich Navigation Company agrees to increase its share capital and - with the new financial resources - to renovate the ageing vessel.

1962 – 1968

Three new motor vessels are commissioned - the Bachtel, Helvetia and Wädenswil. Together with the four new boats launched during the 1950s and motor vessels from the pre-war years, the Lake Zurich Navigation Company now operates a fleet of 15 motor vessels and two paddle steamers. The last authentic propeller-driven steamboat - the "Lützelau"- was in service for the last time at the 1st Swiss Horticultural Exhibition held in Zurich in 1959. The new Helvetia motor vessel is the new flagship of the Lake Zurich fleet and more than 50 years still retains this status. When launched in 1964 it could accommodate up to 1500 passengers - today it can carry 1000.


At the 1st Swiss Horticultural Exhibition in Zurich - the "G59" - visitors are ferried from and back to the railway station on boats similar to those used on the canals of Amsterdam. After the event, the Lake Zurich Navigation Company acquires three of the vessels to launch regular services on the River Limmat.


The decision to phase out the legendary Helvetia paddle steamer and to commission a new motor vessel (the Limmat) results in the Zurich Steamboat Company (ZDG) changing its name to the Lake Zurich Navigation Company (ZSG).


The Linth motor vessel is launched on Lake Zurich. It can accommodate up to 1400 passengers (today up to 850). And it is the first triple-deck motor vessel to be seen in Switzerland. The boat has been constructed at the Bodan shipyard in Kressbronn in neighbouring Germany, which will construct all our new vessels over the coming 50 years. The internationally-acclaimed Swiss engineering companies Escher Wyss and Sulzer have ceased their boat-building activities.


Following construction of the Hurden boat canal linking lower and lower Lake Zurich, the Zurich Steamboat Company extends its services to Schmerikon. The road and rail bridge over the canal has a clearance height of nine metres, enabling all ZDG boats to access the scenically attractive Obersee part of the lake.


This year sees the Swiss National Exhibition taking place in Zurich - but coinciding with the outbreak of the 2nd World War. Popularly known as the Landi, the exhibition is served by four passenger vessels, three of which are later to be acquired by the ZSG. These boats too are equipped with variable-pitch propellers, which for the next 70 years become the fleet's standard new operating system.


The Etzel motor vessel is built in 1934 as one of several boats designated for the Swiss National Expo of 1939. It is the first boat fully designed as a diesel-operated vessel (the Uto and Wädenswil both having been constructed initially as steamboats and later converted). The Etzel is built by the Escher Wyss company, and makes shipping history as the world's first hydraulic variable-pitch propeller vessel in the world. It is currently owned and operated as a charter boat by a society, founded in 1999 by ZSG employees.

1909 / 1914

In the spirit of the time, the beauty of the Belle Epoque is reflected on Lake Zurich. Travel is the "new" experience, and on-board comfort a must. The Stadt Zürich steam vessel is launched in 1909 and its sister-boat Stadt Rapperswil in 1914. Thanks to the efforts of the Pro Paddle Steamer Society (founded in 1970), both vessels remain in regular service today.


In 1907 the Schwalbe propeller-driven steamboat (built in 1864) is converted into a diesel motor vessel. Two years later it re-enters service under the new name "Uto" (derived from the Uetliberg mountain) - one of the first diesel motor vessels in Switzerland.


Following the founding of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) in 1902, the boats operated by the Northeastern Railway Company (NOB) are now acquired by the Zurich Steamboat Company (ZDG). ¬ Particularly worthy of mention is the "Helvetia" paddle steamer, built in 1875 with a capacity of 1200 passengers. The "Helvetia" and the "Mont Blanc" on Lake Geneva are at this time the largest paddle steamers in Switzerland. Having already acquired the Wädenswil and Speer from the Wädenswil Steamboat Company in 1900, the ZDG now owns the entire fleet on Lake Zurich as well as property including the dockyard at Zürich-Wollishofen.

1894 – 97

The increasing popularity of Lake Zurich results in the purchase of four large propeller steamboats, each accommodating 100 passengers. The vessels are named the Goldbach, Küsnacht, Neu-Zürich and Bendlikon. The Neu-Zürich is renamed the Thalwil in 1897 and in 1935 converted into a motor vessel. This boat exists to this day as a popular attraction at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne, where it serves as a children's play area.


With shipping operations threatened by increasing competition from the railways, the Zurich Steamboat Company (ZDG) is founded - forerunner of today's Lake Zurich Navigation Company (ZSG). Five propeller driven steamboats are commissioned to provide feeder services into and out of the city. From 1892/1893, these services will operate from the Rathausbrücke pedestrian bridge to Wollishofen, Tiefenbrunnen, Küsnacht and Thalwil.


The Northeastern Railway Company (NOB) takes over the entire Lake Zurich fleet.


In Horgen (on the southern left shore of Lake Zurich) the Zurich Steamboat Company is founded. It constructs the propeller-driven steamboat Schwalbe which in 1909 is converted into a diesel motor vessel - one of the first motor vessels in Switzerland. Propeller-driven boats have a long tradition on Lake Zurich. The first such vessel was built in 1834 in Rapperswil by Johann Jakob Lämmlin, co-founder of steamboat shipping on Lake Zurich. However, the speed of the vessel never exceeded that of a proficient pedestrian.

1839 - 42

The three enterprises merge to form the Lake Zurich & Lake Walen Navigation Company.

1837 - 39

The Linth Escher and Republik companies each build a boat and compete for business on Lake Zurich.


19 July 1835 sees the launching of the Minerva on Lake Zurich. At this time, there is no railway system or motorized road traffic in Switzerland.


Technical pioneer Johann Jakob Lämmlin and Franz Carl Caspar (founder of the Steamboat Company for Lake Constance and the Rhine) establish the Caspar & Lämmlin company to operate steamers on Lake Zurich and Lake Walen. They commission their first vessel from English shipbuilder William Fairbairn in Manchester.

From there the vessel undertakes a complex crossing of the English Channel to continental Europe where it travels on the then still uncorrected Rhine Rhine down to Augst in Switzerland. The vessel is then dismantled, conveyed by horse-drawn transport to Zurich, and re-assembled by Escher-Wyss - the Swiss company's first venture into boat construction. The boat is named "Minerva", after the Roman goddess of fortune and personification of luck.

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