Bigge and Lister Valley Dam  

"Pure nature" is what you might think when you first see the winding lake district consisting of the Bigge and Lister reservoirs. But this enormous expanse of water with its dreamy bathing spots and accompanying biking and hiking trails is a landscape made by man. It is no coincidence that it is only an hour away from the Ruhr area, which quenches its thirst primarily from the springs and reservoirs of the Sauerland ...

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… In fact, during the heyday of industrialisation, water consumption in the district was seven times higher than in the rest of the country. It was not until the damming of the Bigge in the 1960s that the supply was finally secured. Countless hikers, cyclists, boat passengers, yachtsmen, surfers, anglers and even divers prove that the reservoir has long since become an attractive holiday destination.

Those who lost their homeland in the floods would also have to dive today. The Bigge Valley Dam takes away the homes, businesses and even the birthplaces of some 2,550 people. Some of them, already forced to resettle in 1912 with the construction of the Lister Valley Dam, are now suffering the same fate again. The exodus is accompanied by the roar of Europe's largest construction site at the time. From 1957 to 1965, eight large and 24 smaller bridges, almost 70 kilometres of roads and cycling trails, a completely new railway line and the barrage in the shape of a 52-metre-high rockfill dam sealed with asphalt concrete were built. The first plans date back to 1938. After World War II and in the wake of the growing population in the booming Ruhr District, the North Rhine-Westphalian parliament adopted a financing law in 1956, clearing the way for a project for centuries to come.

The new Bigge lake is up to 52 metres deep and abuts directly on the Lister Valley Dam, making it a forebay. Together with twelve other reservoirs of the Ruhr Association, they regulate the water level of the Ruhr and ensure that the Ruhr District always is sufficiently supplied with water. In addition, they prevent floods and inundations in the towns and communities downstream on the Lenne and Ruhr rivers. Last but not least, a hydro-electric power plant harnesses the regular flow of water to generate electricity – the annual volume is equivalent to the annual consumption of almost 10,000 households. Visitors can gain these and other exciting insights into the technical aspects of operating the reservoirs on a guided tour around the Bigge Valley Dam.


The "steel time travelers" Luise & Alfred: Bigge and Lister Valley Dam


Attendorn ahead - another old Hanseatic town, by the way, as is Olpe. Both are located on the Bigge.

Full dialog text
Lu: Attendorn ahead - by the way, an old Hanseatic town again, just like Olpe. Both are located on the Bigge.

Al: I understand. You want me to believe that the Sauerlanders have always known how the hare runs?

Lu: Hanseatic League, not hare. Those were Hanseatic cities like Essen, Duisburg or Bochum. Trade, shipping ... is there something dawning?

Al: Shipping from Attendorn to Olpe. Don't make me laugh. Best on this Bigge, this gurgling mountain river here!

Lu: It's pointless. The fine gentleman makes fun again, woll?

Al: A sea trip, that's funny ...

Lu: One day you will be proven wrong: white ships will sail on the Bigge and the water of Bigge and Lister will bring energy and safety.

Al: For sure ...

Visitor information

Tourismusverband Biggesee-Listersee
Schüldernhof 17
57439 Attendorn

Opening hours:
The area is accessible 24 hours a day.

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A valley sinks into the lake - Bigge Valley Dam (ca. 1966)

Brief description (film without sound)

The film excerpts show different work measures during the construction of the Bigge Valley dam between 1957 and 1965.

The Bigge and Lister Valley Dams through the ages

Bigge and Lister Valley Dam

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"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 …

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City center Olpe


Here on the Bigge, the Roman road once met the iron road. As early as the 11th century, iron was produced in forest forges, copper was found in the 15th century, and boilermakers and puncture makers kept the cash registers ringing. The tannery is also profitable. This flourishing "town of a thousand lime trees" is a true hub in the Sauerland region and its location on the Bigge river will certainly bear fruit in the future.

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Südsauerlandmuseum Attendorn


What an impressive ensemble: town hall, market, church ... Attendorn's rich history has obviously contributed a lot to the fact that such magnificent buildings could be built. We nobles and religious have obviously always felt at home here. A place that will certainly continue to attract people in the future.

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