Ludwig Canal Size report

The Ludwig Canal (German: Ludwig-Donau-Main Kanal) is non-operational in southern Germany. At that time, the political situation was less favorable for canal building in central Europe, but the Ludwig Canal, forming part of the Rhine-Main-Danube route, was opened in 1840.

The canal linked the Danube River at Kelheim with the Main River at Bamberg, connecting the Danube basin with the Rhine basin. At the same time, steps were taken to improve river navigation generally, provide speedier transport, and enable a greater volume of freight to be carried.

The first realization of a dream to enable barges to navigate from the North Sea to the Black sea, the Ludwig Canal proved unsustainable and was eventually succeeded by a larger canal over a century later. You will learn more interesting facts about the Ludwig Canal in the following post.

History of the Ludwig Canal

Named after King Ludwig I of Bavaria, the Ludwig Canal (also known as the Ludwig-Donau-Main Canal or "Old Canal" in the region) was built between 1836 to 1846 by the King of Bavaria Ludwig I, and up to 9,000 workers were temporarily employed on the building. In 1830, the King commissioned Heinrich von Pechmann to do the planning. The section from Bamberg to Nuremberg was opened in 1843. The canal remains in close contact with the Danube and Main rivers at Kelheim and Bamberg, respectively. In a broader sense, the canal was part of a navigable connection between the North Sea near Rotterdam and the Black Sea near Constanța.

Its narrow channels were laden with locks and a shortage of water supply to the summit level, which was one of the reasons behind its abandonment in 1950 when the region suffered a water shortage. Another reason is the competition from the rapidly developing railway network in the southern German countryside. Rather than repair the damage suffered during World War II, the canal was finally abandoned in 1950. A much larger canal eventually succeeded the canal, Rhine-Main–Donau Canal, which was started in 1921 but not completed until 1992.

Ludwig Canal Size

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Ludwig Canal was a 173 km long waterway between the Danube near Kelheim and the Main near Bamberg. The canal was 15.80 m wide and 1.46 m deep. The highest transport volume was reached in 1850 with 200,000 tons. The ambitious construction project took on a special position by crossing the main European watershed. One hundred locks were built to compensate for the differences in altitude on this route, managing a total difference in altitude of 264 meters (80 meters ascent from the Danube and 184 meters descent to the Main).

Final Words

To the right and left of the canal is a long and level path with many old locks and lock keepers' houses. Information boards can be found repeatedly and make the hike along the canal quite entertaining. There are several places to stop for a break along the canal. Between Beilngries and Nuremberg, the Ludwig-Danube-Main Canal has largely been preserved in its historical scope and with some functions.


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