The ship lift has been in operation since 1938 enabling vessels and ships to continue their downstream journey from the Mittelland Canal to the Magdeburg port and the Elbe by passing through the water-filled lock chamber with its 5400-ton capacity. The Rothensee water saving lock has a lifting height of 11 to 18 m, depending on the water level of the river Elbe. The lock chamber itself is 85 m long and 12 m wide with a depth of 2.5 m. These dimensions are however not large enough for today’s huge cargo vessels to pass through. The entire lockage times takes up to 40 minutes including entry and exit of the ship or vessel.
The historic ship lift is a unique technological monument. It is an ingenious construction and a masterpiece of engineering. It the only ship lift of its kind still operating in Germany. A visit is also made worthwhile by the state-of-the-art water saving lock in the immediate vicinity that make the developments in water transport technology visible.