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General Information

Name in local language: Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow
Beginning of works: 1927
Completion: 21 March 1934
Status: in use

Project Type

Function / usage: Hydraulic lift lock
Material: Steel structure

Awards and Distinctions


Location: , , ,
  • Oder-Havel-Kanal
Near: Niederfinow Safety Gate
Will be replaced by: Niederfinow Nord Lift Lock (2017)
Coordinates: 52° 50' 56.80" N    13° 56' 31.06" E
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Technical Information


width 27 m
height 60 m
length 94 m
height difference 36 m
trough width 12 m
length 85 m
water depth 2.50 m


structural steel 13 800 t
concrete volume 72 000 m³
excavated material 760 000 m³


cost of construction Reichsmark 27 500 000


trough steel

Excerpt from Wikipedia

The Niederfinow Boat Lift is the oldest working boat lift in Germany. It lies on the Oder-Havel Canal near Niederfinow in Brandenburg. The lift overcomes a difference in elevation of 36 metres.


On 17 June 1914 the large navigation between Berlin and Stettin was opened. Near Niederfinow the difference in elevation was overcome using a staircase lock with four chambers. One can still visit the remains of these locks today (seen in the foreground of the accompanying aerial photograph).

The capacity of the staircase locks was quickly exceeded, therefore, between 1927 and 1934, the boat lift was built and inaugurated on 21 March 1934. The lift is 60 m high, the length 94 m, taking five minutes for the trough to move through the 36m elevation difference. The following enterprises were involved:


  • Beton- und Monierbau AG, Berlin
  • Chistoph & Unmack GmbH, Berlin
  • Philipp Holzmann AG, Berlin

Steel structure

  • August Klönne, Dortmund
  • J. Gollnow & Sohn, Stettin
  • Gutehoffnungshütte AG, Oberhausen
  • Mitteldeutsche Stahlwerke AG, Lauchhammer


  • Demag AG, Duisburg
  • Ardeltwerke, Eberswalde
  • Fried. Krupp Grusonwerk, Magdeburg

Electrical system

  • Siemens-Schuckert werk, Berlin
  • Allgemeine Electrizitäts-Gesellschaft, Berlin

Foundations and steel structure of the aqueduct

  • Beuchelt & Co, Grünberg

By 26 January 1939 100,000 boats had already passed through the lift. In the inaugural year there was 2,832,000 tonnes of traffic.

The lift was the subject of a general overhaul in 1980 and the lifting cables were renewed in 1984/85.

Today the boat lift is too short for some barge trains which must be separated to pass the lift. The lift is running near to its capacity with about 11,000 boats passing through each year, so in 1997 the decision was made to build a new, bigger lift.

The Niederfinow lift is a popular tourist destination with about 500,000 visitors per year. Due to this a new larger car park was opened in 2003.


The boat lift consists of 14,000 Tonnes of riveted structural steelwork standing on steel columns. The Oder-Havel-Kanal approaches the head of the lift on a 4,000 Tonne riveted steelwork aqueduct. The trough when filled weighs 4,290 tonnes and hangs on 256 steel cables, these cross over guide rollers and support 192 counterweights which balance the trough. The security of the lift is maintained by keeping half the cables in tension and the other half relaxed in reserve. The guide rollers have a diameter of 3.5m.

Pin gearing with D.C.motors in Leonards electric motor speed controllers, connected together by a shaft allow a symmetrical drive. This arrangement allows the exact synchronisation of the four pin gears. The four Leonard controllers each have an output of 55 kilowatts totalling 220 kilowatts. Four worm geared shafts are driven which intersect with internal threads built into the troughs. These move freely under normal circumstances but would seize if a cable broke providing extra safety.

Text imported from Wikipedia article "Niederfinow Boat Lift" and modified on 23 July 2019 under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.

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