Nerdy Notes: Quite the Aqueduct

When we think of bridges, we almost always think of something more or less solid that goes across a big gap of one sort or another.  Often, that gap is filled with water.  It might seem strange, therefore, to propose a bridge where the water was the thing that went on top… especially if the thing this “water bridge” was crossing was, itself, more water.

The Magdeburg Water Bridge in heavy use, and the River Elbe below. (Image from Wikipedia)


That, however, is just the sort of bridge which the famously innovative Germans have built.  In Europe, where massive systems of canals are a valuable system of inland transportation, there was, for decades, a hole in the German system of aquatic highways.  Curiously, that hole existed only because of the valley of the River Elbe—in other words, it was a waterway interrupting the Germans’ waterways.
West of the Elbe is the Mittelland Canal (or Mittellandkanal)—the longest artificial waterway in Germany.  The Mittelland Canal runs through the center of the western half of the country, and connects with other canals.  To the East of the Riber Elbe is the Elbe-Havel Canal, which runs several dozen miles through eastern Germany.  There, it connects with natural waterways which, in turn, lead to other canals that reach as far as Poland.  For nearly a century, a proposal existed to join the two canals with a “water bridge”—a navigable aqueduct—which would span the River Elbe.  A few minor issues—World War II, and the halving of Germany—meant that this plan was put on hold until less than a decade ago.
Finally, in 2003, the Magdeburg Water Bridge was opened for business.  Its opening removed a wandering detour which vessels had taken to get from the one canal to the other.  The Water Bridge is unique in the world, in that it crosses another navigable body of water, and is the longest navigable aqueduct ever built.  It is found in north-central Germany.  You can visit it by car or on foot… or, of course, by boat!
The Magdeburg Water Bridge as seen from above, with its unique water-over-water layout. (Image from Google Maps)

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mark Jacobs, an editor at The Jet Fuel Review.  He is an Aviation major, but the left side of his brain is an avid writer.  Mark is a sophomore and will be working a few hours as a tutor in the Writing Center in the 2011-2012 school year.

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