No Ruhr District without the Ruhr - this is true in many respects! Take coal and steel, for example: until the mid-20th century, the extraction and processing of one tonne of coal takes 2.5 cubic metres of water, while up to 30 cubic metres are needed to produce one tonne of pig iron. Take transport, for example: before the construction of the railway, 50 percent of the region's coal is shipped along the Ruhr. Take drinking water, for example: the supply to the sprawling cities relies on a multitude of waterworks and towers. The downside: wastewater also ends up in the Ruhr, making it more and more of a cesspit in dry years. Relief is provided by the construction of dams in the Sauerland region, initiated in the late 19th century. At that time, the Ruhr's headwaters are undergoing a period of radical change. The abundant water power, hitherto an indispensable source of energy for a flourishing industrial landscape of ore mines and small iron industries, is desperately outclassed by the fossil fuels coal and coke in the expanding Ruhr region. Yet the same water, stored in dams, safeguards the Ruhr's lifeline by reliably regulating the level of the river. Power plants at the foot of the dams continue to use water power to drive their turbines, while reservoirs such as Hengsteysee, Harkortsee and Baldeneysee serve as fluvial treatment plants, thus improving the water quality of the Ruhr. All these lakes and dams are now a trademark of the Sauerland region as local recreation areas.

All water travel destinations

On this Google map you can find all the highlights and other destinations of the steel time travel from the category water. So you can navigate and plan easily. Alternatively, you can download our overview map with all info as a PDF file.

Museum der Deutschen Binnenschifffahrt


Beyond the Sauerland, the river Ruhr is all about coal. Ruhr coal! As of 1780, packed barges travel from the mines near Witten and Mülheim to Ruhrort where the river flows into the Rhine. The multi-media exhibition of the museum covers three floors of a magnificent Art Nouveau baths built in 1908, a section of which brings the historic Ruhr "river highway" back to life …

Read More

Aquarius Water Museum


The virtual tour along the Ruhr starts 35 metres above ground with a sweeping panorama of the Ruhr Valley. From there, visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the Ruhr District's water supply at over 30 multi-media posts spread across 14 levels of the historic Styrum water tower, thus learning that this conurbation would be inconceivable without the Sauerland water reservoir to this day …

Read More



For hikers, cyclists, swimmers and yachtsmen, Lake Baldeney is pure recreation. Few know that it was man-made along with other Ruhr reservoirs to improve the water quality. For the Ruhr, which rises in the Sauerland region and is the Ruhr District's most important source of water, literally turnes into a cesspool in the early 20th century due to industrial and residential wastewater …

Read More

Möhne Valley Dam


The Colossus of Rhodes was an ancient wonder of the world. The Möhne reservoir has its own colossus: the 40-metre-high dam is Westphalia's heaviest monument and spectacularly located in the region's most diverse area for leisure activities. However, there are sound reasons for its construction more than 100 years ago: without this water reservoir, the Ruhr conurbation would be left high and dry …

Read More

Henne Valley Dam


In the 19th century, 1.75 cubic metres of water are needed to extract one tonne of coal, while one tonne of steel consumes even five cubic metres. How does this relate to the Henne Dam near Meschede? Industry, businesses and large cities in the Ruhr District were and still are almost entirely reliant on the Ruhr water. Lake Henne is one of eight reservoirs reliably regulating the river’s water level …

Read More

Bigge and Lister Valley Dam

WEL_Wasser30_Bigge- und Listersee.png

"Pure nature" is the first impression when seeing the meandering lake scenery of the Bigge and Lister reservoirs. But this vast expanse of water with its sleepy bathing spots and surrounding cycling and hiking trails is a man-made landscape. It is not by accident that the Ruhr District, which takes its water mainly from the springs and reservoirs of the Sauerland, is only an hour away …

Read More

Wir binden die Videos der Plattform “YouTube” des Anbieters Google LLC, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA, ein. Datenschutzerklärung:, Opt-Out: