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This article is a 2023 look at the 

Friedrich Wilhelm Kanal

near Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany

Return to:   Ship Zebra - Passengers

Aim of article

  • Display photographs of the current Friedrich Wilhelm Canal
  • Provide a history of the canal 
  • Display photographs of the possible journey that our ancestors took in 1838


Table of Contents

1.   Author's Note


1.   Author's Note

This week [August 2023] I again cycled along the Friedrich Wilhelm Kanal beginning in Brieskow-Finkenheerd.   I will soon include photographs from my first ride here in 2018 to provide a sense that you are experiencing the length of the canal as you would when walking/cycling.





















This information board is on the FWK at Klixmühle.


“The canal is a historic monument that has been influential in shaping the appearance and development of the surrounding communities. It was the first canal to connect the Spree and the Oder rivers, completed as early as 1668. For over 200 years, this canal served as the primary link between Hamburg, Berlin, and Breslau (now Wrocław). However, after the opening of the Oder-Spree Canal in 1891, the Friedrich Wilhelm Canal  lost its significance as a waterway.

At the end of World War II, the locks were destroyed. Navigability of the waterway was no longer possible. The northern bank area was transformed into a ‘towpath’ in 199 and has since been well-received by pedestrians, cyclists, and skaters. Simultaneously, a towboat equipped with an electric motor was put into service.”









Photo of board 5907 








This information board is on the FWK just above the ‘Treidelkahn Aniegestelle’ [towpath] opposite Weißenspring

Translation from German by Transkribus & CHATGPT

[Treidelkahn Aniegestelle” in English means “Towpath Boat Landing” or “Towpath Barge Landing.” It refers to a place where a towpath boat (Treidelkahn) can dock or moor. In historic canal systems, towpath boats were used for manual towing of vessels along canals by people or draft animals walking on the adjacent towpath.]

“History of the canal in connection with the Great Elector (1662-1668)

To expedite the trade between Silesia (Oder) and Hamburg (Elbe), Friedrich Wilhelm had the “New Canal,” also known as the “Müllrose Canal” or “Friedrich-Wilhelm Canal,” constructed by the Chinese.  

This canal, stretching from Brieskow at the confluence of the Schlaube River with the Oder to Neubrück on the Spree and Havel rivers, enabled continuous shipping between Breslau (Wrocław), Berlin, and Hamburg.


Only in Berlin did smaller Oder ships need to transfer their cargo to larger Elbe ships. 

  • Goods no longer had to be transported through Saxony or overland from the Oder port of Frankfurt to the Spree port of Kersdorf.
  • While the trade center of Frankfurt lost significance, this development marked a significant advancement for the entire state.
  • 1662, June 8  Start of construction.
  • 1668, August 4-11  The first passage occurred earlier (on May 25).

After the completion of the canal in 1668, Elector Friedrich Wilhelm naturally did not miss the opportunity to personally inspect and travel along the canal.”

Index to diagram ‘Entwicklung does Handwerks am Kanal’

CHATGPT “The phrase “Entwicklung des Handwerks am Kanal” translates to “Development of Crafts/Trade along the Canal” in English. It refers to the historical evolution or growth of craftsmanship and trade activities in the vicinity of a canal.”

Bottom far right:

                  Ehem Brauerei/Brennerei = former Brewery/distillery          

                  Denkmal = Monument

                   Ehem Kalkbrennerei = Former Lime Kiln
                   Ehem Koksbrennerei = Former Coke Oven

                   Ehem Glashütte = Former Glassworks
                   Ehem Braunkohlenwerk = Former Brown Coal Mine

                    Schiffbau = Shipbuilding
                    Kofferfabrik = Suitcase Factory

                    Ehem Sägewerk = Former Sawmill

                    Ehem Sirup und Stärkebarik = Former Syrup and Starch Factory
                    Ehem Kraftwerk = Former Power Plant
                    Ehem Brikettfabrik mit Hagen = Briquette Factory with Harbor

Top left

  • Mühle, erhalten = Mill, preserved
  • Ehem Alfie Mühle = Former mill
  • Schloß/Gutshaus = Castle/manor house
  • Ehem Kupferhammer = Former copper hammer
  • Ehem Eisenhammer = Former iron hammer
  • Ehem Textilfabrik = Former textile factory
  • Schleuse erhalten = Lock, preserved
  • Ehem Schleuse = Former lock
  • Schleuse moister haute = Lockmaster’s house
  • Ehem Kolonie = Former colony
  • Ehem Tonpfeifenmanufaktur = Former clay pipe factory

In 2023 the tow path was blocked by fallen trees which was a shame because the locks we missed were among the more attractive, however I have photographs from 5 years ago which will fill this gap.

From here on this article has not yet been edited as it is waiting for further photographs

It should be completed by the end of November 2023.  JBH Author.


This information board is alongside the FWK in Schlaubehammer

Translation from German by Transkribus.

“The Friedrich-Wilhelm Canal is one of the oldest artificial waterways in Brandenburg.  It was constructed between the years 1662 and 1668. Its patron was Elector Friedrich Wilhelm (reign 1640-1688). The canal connected the Oder River with the Spree River, primarily utilizing the riverbed of the Schlaube from Brieskow to Müllrose.

This created a continuous shipping route from Silesia via the Oder, Spree, Havel, and Elbe Rivers all the way to Hamburg. The journey from Breslau (Wrocław) to Berlin was reduced to just 340 km instead of 2000 km through Stettin, the Baltic Sea, Skagerrak, the North Sea, and upstream on the Elbe. What an enormous saving!

 Berlin became a thriving trade metropolis and a major city only with the construction of this canal. By the end of the 19th century, the economy experienced tremendous growth. More and more goods needed to be transported, necessitating larger ships. With the introduction of tugboats, the canal became too narrow, and the locks, in turn, became too small.

In the years 1887 to 1891, the new Oder-Spree Canal was then built. A new canal bed was dug from Schlaubehammer to Fürstenberg/Oder (now Eisenhüttenstadt). The Friedrich Wilhelm Canal lost much of its economic significance but remained operational with limited lock usage.

With the hostilities of World War II in the spring of 1945, the canal was finally destroyed. In April 1945, German troops detonated the locks, bridges, and sluice gates. Since 1983, the canal, along with its locks and facilities, has been protected as a technical monument.

Lock Hammer, Friedrich-Wilhelm Canal (Official Name: Schlaubehammer Lock Brieskow Canal km

The Hammer Lock is one of the former 9 locks of the Friedrich-Wilhelm Canal.

It was built in the years 1843/1844. The lock is a twin-chamber lock with offset heads. The lock has a length of 41.6 meters and a width of 9.6 meters, allowing for passage.

The summit level between the Oder and the Spree is located here between Schlaubehammer and Müllrose. The gradient toward the Spree is 3.77 meters and was overcome with the locks at Müllrose and Neuhaus.

The gradient toward the Oder is 18 - 23 meters (depending on the Oder’s water level). The locks in Hammerfort, Weißenspring, Oberlindow, Weißenberg, Finkenheerd, and Brieskow served this purpose. The gradient to the Hammerfort lock was 3.76 meters here.

In the mid-19th century, approximately 8,100 barges and 40,000 rafts passed through the canal. The locks were operated manually, which was quite strenuous work.

Next to the lock is the residence of the lockmaster. It was built in the year 1860. In front of it, there is a large barn. Inside, there were a cowshed, a pigsty, a chicken coop, a toilet, a threshing floor, and a storage area for boats and equipment. Additionally, the property included an oven, a large garden, and fields and meadows because the lockmaster had to provide for himself. He also had fishing rights in the canal and at the lock.

The lockmaster was responsible for the smooth operation of the lock. He was in charge of water management, maintenance work, and the collection of lock fees.

Except for church times, on Sundays and holidays until 2:00 in the afternoon, he was not allowed to leave the lock without notifying the Canal Construction Inspection. It was also forbidden for him to accept gifts from the boatmen.

This information can be found in the “Instruction for Lockmasters on the New Wilhelms Canal” by M. Köckritz.





Bauzeichnung Hammerschleuse- Wasserbauinspektion von 1901


In English, “Bauzeichnung Hammerschleuse- Wasserbauinspektion von 1901” translates to “Construction Drawing of Hammerschleuse - Water Engineering Inspection of 1901.” This indicates that it’s a construction drawing related to the Hammerschleuse (Hammer Lock) and is associated with a water engineering inspection from the year 1901. It likely contains technical details or plans related to this structure from that time.


Notice board on FWK

1.  Friedrich-Wilhelm Canal

The canal is a historic monument that has had a significant impact on the appearance and development of the surrounding communities. It was the first canal to connect the Spree and the Oder rivers and was completed as early as 1668. For over 200 years, this canal served as the most important link between Hamburg, Berlin, and Breslau. However, after the opening of the Oder-Spree Canal in 1891, the Friedrich-Wilhelm Canal lost its significance as a waterway.

At the end of World War II, the locks were destroyed, rendering the waterway unnavigable. The northern bank area was converted into a “towpath” in 1990 and has since been well-received by walkers, cyclists, and skaters.

Simultaneously, an electric motor-equipped towboat was put into service.


1.  Friedrich-Wilhelm-Kanal

Der Kanal ist ein historisches Baudenkmal, welches prägend für das Erscheinungsbild und die Entwicklung der anliegenden Gemeinden ist.  Es war der erste Kanal, der die Spree und die Oder verband. Er wurde bereits 1668 fertig gestellt. Dieser Kanal war über 200 Jahre die wichtigste Verbindung zwischen Hamburg, Berlin und Breslau. Nach der Eröffnung des Oder-Spree-Kanals 1891 verlor der Friedrich-Wilhelm-Kanal seine Bedeutung als Wasserweg. Am Ende des 2. Weltkrieges wurden die Schleusen zerstört. Die Schiffbarkeit des Gewässers war nicht mehr gegeben. Der nördliche Uferbereich wurde 1990 zum „Treidelpfad“ ausgebaut und wird seit dem von Spaziergängern, Radfahrern und Skatern gut angenommen.

Gleichzeitig wurde ein mit Elektromotor ausgestatteter Treidelkahn in Dienst genommen.



Schlaubehammer District

This place was first mentioned in 1275 as ‘Slubenmole’ and is the oldest district of the municipality of Groß Lindow. In 1545, an iron hammer and a cutting mill were established, and around 1745, a watermill and the lock with a keeper’s house on the Friedrich-Wilhelm Canal were added. In 1864, the village had 63 buildings, including a cutting and grinding mill, an oil factory, and a lime kiln.

Today, this residential and recreational area, connected to Lake Helene, is a popular destination for hikers and cyclists. Through the untouched nature along the Friedrich-Wilhelm Canal, you can reach Groß Lindow and continue to the Ziltendorfer Oder Lowlands.

"Schlaubehammer District

This place was first mentioned in 1275 as 'Slubenmole' and is the oldest district of the municipality of Groß Lindow. In 1545, an iron hammer and a cutting mill were established, and around 1745, a