Our Barge, Odysseus

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Plan Incliné - July 31

We left Lutzlebourg a little after 9 am. Four locks later we entered the basin at the base of the Inclined Plane Boat Lift about 10:45. There were no other boats waiting so we had the ride to ourselves.

Two years ago in southern Belgium we road the Strepy-Thieu boat elevator. You can see pictures and a description of that trip a little over halfway down the page here. This lift is a little different.
In the 1960's, an international competition was held to design a boat lift that would eliminate the 18 locks and full days time it took to get to the top of the Canal de la Marne au Rhine. Opening in 1969, the Plan Incliné took 5 years and about $15 million to build. It included about 1200 meters of new approach channel and over 3000 meters of new canal cut into the cliff face at the top. It's basically a counterweighted bathtub measuring the usual 39 meters by a little over 5, weighs about 850 tons when filled with water and, because of the counterweights, operates with an electric motor that develops about 12 hp! Boats enter through a lift gate that closes, the basin moves along a track on 32 railcar-like wheels being pulled by two sets of 14 wire cables.

View from the bottom.

After just about 5 minutes, the boat has completed the 108 meter climb and the tourists at the top are waiting to greet you.

The view back down from the top.

Since we were going up we then entered the new canal cut along the face of the cliff. It was a quiet Saturday on the canal; not much traffic.

The next obstacle to be overcome are the two tunnels, the first over 2 kilometers. It's lit on the inside but still, a half hour spent underground is not one of our highlights.

The light is green so we're ok to enter the second tunnel, 475 meters long.

Just past the last tunnel was the municipal tie up for the village of Niderviller. The docks are still there but the water and power are turned off because the bridge has just been replaced. Since we're ok for several days without hookups, we decided to spend a couple of days there. We had some bicycle side trips to make.

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