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Before the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane was built there were 17 locks changing the level by 44.5 metres over a distance of 2.5 miles. One person was needed to man each lock and they worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. I missed taking a photo of the bottom lock but I hope you get that it is under the bridge!
This rocky crag has a ladder going up it - why?
This was our first view of the inclined plane - what a feat of engineering.
The original 17 locks not only took a day to traverse but used about 600 cubic metres of water per boat which in summer often meant the locks couldn't operate. There was international competition in 1967 to try and find a solution but I can't find out who the winner and designer was!! The transverse system was the best suited to the area and work began - the lift was opened in 1969. The lift works on the Archimedes principle (I won't go into that!) but it means that the system can work without an engine - there are engines but these only control the speed.
Here are a few statistics.
The steel caisson is 41.5 metres long, 5.5 metres wide and 3.2 metres deep.
The caisson runs on 32 steel wheels, weighs 900 tonnes and travels at 1.3 mph.
Two concrete counterweights on guided carriages each weigh 450 tonnes and each counterweight is fastened to the caisson by 14 steel cables of just over an inch in diameter.
There are winches each driven by a 90kw electrical motor.
Each journey takes 4 minutes.
After the inclined plane we went through two tunnels. The first is the Arzviller Tunnel which is almost 1.5 miles long and has a rail tunnels running parallel. The second is the Niderviller Tunnel which is only 550 yards long.
Our last obstacle to negotiate was an aqueduct.
We were soon passing Hesse, our final destination. As it was so hot we decided not to cruise on but stop in Hesse and for Penny to drive us back to Boofzheim (keep up - that's where we started from!) to pick up the car and caravan, which we duly did.
We went out to a lovely local restaurant in the evening and had an excellent meal - a fitting end to our lovely boating trip.
1 inclined plane!