The Henrichenburg ship lift has been the most spectacular building construction on the Dortmund-Ems canal since 1899. At the end of the 1960s the gigantic elevation construction, once celebrated as a masterpiece of engineering, was decommissioned, restored in 1982 and then inaugurated in 1992 as a museum for waterways and inland waterway transport. From the bridge between the two main towers, visitors see the details of the steel construction and enjoy an overview across the highly interesting museum site. In the historic machine hall they find out how the canal and lifting facility were built. Unique in our collection are floating work equipment and historic ships lying in the surface water of the elevating facility. In the cargo space of the "Franz Christian" motorised cargo ship, an exhibition documents the lives and work of an inland waterway family 50 years ago.
The crowd cheered when Emperor William II ceremonially commissioned the Henrichenburg ship lifting works and thus also the Dortmund-Ems canal on 11 August 1899. The canal marked the start of constructing the waterway connection between the Rhein, Weser and Elbe. In the form of the ship lifting facility, the similarly far-reaching yet disputed Prussian prestige project gained a spectacular and internationally respected symbol. This is the reason why the Prussian state coat of arms was applied to its architecture.
It was not only the west German canals that were designed and constructed under Prussian management. On certain sections of the canals Prussia also implemented the towing, i.e. transport of the barges with tugs. The "Royal Towing Facility" was thus a royal Prussian towing operation between 1914 and 1921, also deemed a "monopoly". This was also clearly visible – until 1921 the chimneys of every steam towing vessel bore the Prussian Eagle in addition to the vehicle number.