Located in picturesque Warmian–Mazurian Voivodeship, Elblag Canal gives an incredible sailing experience over dry land. Known also as Elblasko – Ostrodzki Canal (from the names of the cities it connects) is a remarkable monument of hydrotechnical art and a unique tourist attraction. The only similar object in the world is Morris Canal in USA, however it was closed in 1924 and nothing but debris has remained. Elblag Canal on the other hand, after more than 150 years, is still in a good shape. Moreover, many of the original constructions are still in use. 84,2 km in length makes the canal the longest sailing waterway in Poland. In 2007 plebiscite it was chosen one of the seven wonders of the country.
By the commission of the king of Prussia, Frederick William II, the canal was designed to connect East Prussia with the Baltic Sea. The architect who carried out the task was Georg Jakob Steenke. The construction work lasted 16 years. The opening of this waterway in 1860 contributed to the economic growth of the region. It was mainly used to food and timber rafting. In the beginning of the 20th century, rapid rail and road transport development reduced its importance and it became a touristic route.
The most challenging in the building plans was 100 m water levels difference on the trail between Druzno Lake and Piniewo Lake. Therefore numerous water engineering structures were used like locks (with the biggest difference in water levels in Milomlyn, about 3 m), slipways, dams and safety gates. The slipways gained recognition as a global scale innovation. The grassy hills are overcome by the ships on special carriages on rails. Pulling mechanism is driven by the power of water falling on the huge wheels. The slipway of the biggest difference in water levels, which gets to 25 m, is called Olesnica.
Elblag Canal is not only extraordinary engineering achievement. It is also the natural richness of Zulawy Region and Ilawa Lake District. There is a protected landscape area around the canal. Scenic forests, clear lakes and fresh air create ideal habitat for many rare bird species and other animals.
Till 2014 the canal will be closed due to its revitalisation. Slipways will be modernized, banks solidified and the route lighted up. The new historic chamber will host numerous exhibitions, multimedia room and the documents related to the canal construction with authentic signature of G.J. Steenke.