It was first mentioned in a deed of 748. The rapids that gave the town the name (Laufen = rapid running waters) were also responsible for the town's wealth from the salt trade. Small boats that transported the extremely valuable cargo from the rapids north of Salzburg were reloaded at Laufen to larger boats by privilege of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. When the independent principality was finally divided in 1816 between the Bavarian kingdom and the Habsburg Empire in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, the town was split into a Bavarian part carrying the name of Laufen and into an Austrian town (the former Laufen suburbs on the right hand side of the river) by the name of Oberndorf. With the building of railways by the middle of the 19th century the transport of salt on the river Salzach came to an end, taking away the former source of wealth. A number of floods devastated both towns by the end of the century. The flood of 1899 destroyed the old bridge. A new iron bridge was built in a safer place up the river and opened jointly by the King of Bavaria and the Austrian Emperor in 1903.
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