By the late 19th century the Finow Canal was barely able to cope with the increased volume of traffic. Consequently, the Prussian government decided to build a shipping lane for large ships between Berlin and Szczecin in 1905. Between 1906 and 1914 the Hohenzollern Canal (now called the Oder-Havel Canal) was built. Situated to the north of the Finow Canal, it now comprised a second route from the River Oder to the River Havel, for larger ships. New, interesting technical features were built here, such as the hydraulic structure known as the ‘Brückenkanal’, which crossed the Berlin-Szczecin railway line, and the Ragöser Dam – the world’s highest canal dam at the time, at 28 metres. Near Niederfinow, alongside the staircase lock, the famous ship lift was erected between 1926 and 1934. Kurt Plarre, a government building officer at the Eberswalde Office for New Development (in the ‘Reichswasserstraßenverwaltung’), was responsible for the planning. The lift made it possible to overcome a 36-metre height difference in just five minutes. It held the record for the world’s highest ship lift until a higher lift was built near Lünenburg in 1976.
In 2006 construction work began on the new Niederfinow Nord ship lift. It will eliminate a considerable bottleneck on the only trans-European East-West waterway link between Szczecin and Duisburg (via Berlin, Magdeburg, Hanover and Münster). After the project has been completed, the Berlin-Szczecin route will also be able to compete for container transport by water. The Niederfinow Nord ship lift is being constructed out of reinforced concrete. It will be a vertical lift with counterweights, just like the current lift. The trough will be 125.5 metres long, 27.9 metres wide and four metres deep and, when filled with water, it will weigh 9,800 tonnes. The estimated cost of the project is €285 million. Completion is planned for 2025.
Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow (Niederfinow ship lift)
Hebewerkstraße 52, 16248 Niederfinow
Opening times: open daily 10am–4pm; Apr–Oct 9.30am–5.30pm
Admission: €2, concessions €1, children aged six and under go free
Tel.: (03 33 62)7 13 77