The Wüsteneutzsch lock staircase or Wüsteneutzsch lock ruin is the name given to an unfinished lock staircase with originally two lock chambers near Kreypau, a part of the town of Leuna in the Saale district of Saxony-Anhalt.
On November 16, 1920, the construction of the Elster-Saale Canal was decided in a government agreement. In a state treaty for the completion of the Mittelland Canal, the simultaneous start of construction and completion of this waterway, also known as the southern wing of the Mittelland Canal, was expressly stipulated. Work on the canal began near Burghausen in July 1933. The
work, which was increasingly delayed with the start of the Second World War in September 1939, was finally stopped completely at the beginning of 1943.
To overcome the difference in height between the canal and the river Saale, a lock staircase with two locks was planned at Wüsteneutzsch. The locks were planned as "economy locks" (A special type of lock in which additional basins are arranged next to the actual lock chamber, which take up part of the water when the lock is emptied. The lock chamber is first filled from these reservoirs and only the remaining water is taken from the upper section to fill the lock completely. The aim is to reduce the loss of sluice water, which would otherwise run off into the tailwater and thus be lost.).
The lock chambers were to have a length of 85 meters, a width of 12 meters and a sill depth of three meters and would therefore meet the requirements for locking ships with a load capacity of up to 1000 tons.
The Wüsteneutzsch lock ruins are located at kilometer 1.81 of the former Elster-Saale Canal project, referred to as the Saale-Leipzig Canal (SLK) by the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration since 1999. The lock staircase and the Elster-Saale Canal, begun in the first third of the 20th century, were never completed. The lock staircase was to consist of two shaft locks, each with a drop of 11 meters. However, only the upper of the two lock chambers was realized at the time. The lock was founded in rock and constructed as a concrete gravity wall.
A canal section with a length of around 360 meters was planned between the two locks as an intermediate holding and meeting section.
In the period before the Second World War, tug and tow trains were predominantly used in inland shipping. Self-propelled barges were still comparatively rare. A tow train consisted of the tugboat and the trailer, which sometimes consisted of several unpowered barges, adapted to the area of operation. The tugs of the tow trains were not to be towed. A change of tug was planned in the lower or upper harbor of the lock stairs. In the three hundred and sixty meter long middle section, i.e. between the two chambers of the lock stairs, the barges were to be towed by a rope-operated towage system. Turning points for the tugs were provided on both sides of the lock stairs to enable the tugs to turn easily.
Each lock operation would have caused considerable water losses in the canal, as this section of the canal lacks natural inflows. In order to compensate for these water losses, the construction of a pump system on the lower lock canal was planned at the same time as the construction of the lock staircase. Water was to be pumped from the lower Saale section into the upper canal section by means of a pressure pipeline. The pumping process was to take place mainly at night in order to make use of the cheaper night-time electricity.
Visited: May 18, 2020 and November 13, 2022
Location: Wüsteneutzsch, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Status: Historic Landmark