"Old lift lock in Henrichenburg/ Waltrop" Henrichenburg by IceBear7
Henrichenburg Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 12 photos
Wow, first time for me I'm the 1st VT member to put a foot in a place - or at least write about it. We're talking of Henrichenburg here! It had been quite high on my to-see-close-to-home list for a while and I finally got there on a fine Thursday in May - the famous 05-05-05.
The main attraction of the place belongs to the industrial sights of the Route Industrie Kultur in the Ruhrgebiet region in Germany. It's a lift lock. Hard to imagine what that is, but brililant engineering work if you get some explanation on it. Plus you learn a lot about the cargo ships on rivers and canals in the 20th century and you can even go on one of these former barges.
To understand the function of a lift lock it's essential to see the "bigger picture" first. The highly industrialised Ruhrgebiet was far away from the sea, and transport became one of the crucial factors for economical success. Iron ore had to be brought to the area, steel had to be brought back.
They developed a network of canals, running from Dortmund to the North Sea. The Dortmund-Ems-Kanal covers 225 km, with a height difference of 70 m which has to be overcome in 17 steps. The lift lock in Henrichenburg surmounts the biggest single step with around 14 m betweeen the upper level (Oberwasser) and the lower level (Unterwasser). It was built in 1899 and inaugurated by the Prussian emperor Wilhelm II.
As we're talking of a canal a normal lock could not be used, as too much water from the upper level would be lost during the process of transporting the ships. And the canal did not have enough water supply from rivers bringing water to the canal, so every drop of water needed to be saved at the lock.
A vat was the principle part of the lift lock. It was not moved by an engine as the power need for lifting or lowering a barge would have been tremendous - and far too expensive. The lift lock was operated with 5 huge floaters on the physical principles of water displacement and buoyancy. You have 5 deep holes, the vat is kind of floating on them in total balance. A small change in the weight of the whole system makes the floaters sink into the holes - or make them rise up to the canal above.
The operation of the system was very economical, inexpensive and quick (just 2 min for the boat to be lifted up or brought down). It's a little difficult to understand (and very hard to explain...) but the guides at the lift lock are doing a great job explaining the principle through various models!
As the principle of the lift lock is still the best technique for todays ship traffic on the Dortmund-Ems-Kanal a new lift lock was built when the old one got to small. You can visit the new lift lock and see it in operation.
entrance for adults 3,50 Euro, guided tours on request (call ahead), opened Tuesday to Sunday 10 to 6 you get to see:... more travel advice
After listening to the guide's explanations and seeing the model going up and down - the system of a lift lock doesn't... more travel advice
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