Boat Lift on the Central Canal, Belgium

boat lift central canal belgium unesco world heritage site
The boat lifts of the Canal du Centre of Belgium are a remarkable feat of 19th Century engineering and made possible the navigation of the canal from one end of Belgium to the other.

There are a series of four hydraulic boat lifts on the Central Canal of Belgium. These 19th and early 20th Century feats of engineering allowed a connection between the Meuse and the Scheldt rivers, which were separated by 66 meters of elevation. The lifts operate in tandem. One side goes up while the other goes down as a counter weight. This is the lift at Houdeng-Goegnies, the first of the four. It opened in 1888. The others opened in 1917, while World War I raged nearby. We drove down the canal for a while, and saw two more lifts, but didn't persist to the final one. We were there in the early spring, and, according to one guy in a shop near here, the shipping season hadn't started yet. They were named to the Unesco World Heritage list in 1998. I wish we could have seen one in action.

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