Upper Harz Ditches

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Hutthal Ditch
Control weir on the Dyke Ditch where it discharges into the Große Oker

The Upper Harz Ditches (German: Oberharzer Gräben) are hillside ditches, running roughly parallel to the contour lines, that were laid out in the Upper Harz in Germany from the 16th to the 19th centuries to supply water power to the silver mines there. They are an important component of the Upper Harz Water Regale, a historical water system that is now a cultural monument.


The ditches consist of a trench and an embankment (Grabenbrust) next to it, made of spoil piled up when the ditch was excavated. The embankments are frequently protected from erosion by a dry stone wall. In most cases, they also act as inspection paths for the ditch keepers (Grabenwärter) and, today, as public footpaths. The ditches are only inclined at about 1–2 ‰ (i.e. about 1 to 2 millimetres per metre). As a result, they run almost parallel to the contour lines of the terrain.

As protection against seepage the embankment and bed of the ditch are usually sealed with grass sods or clay. At inlets, where the ditch crosses forest streams, there are so-called Fehlschläge, small weirs, by which the water flow in the ditch can be regulated. When water levels are high these have to be opened, i.e. the boards controlling the flow must be removed.

The hydraulic capacity of most ditches is between 100 and 200 litres per second; on the Rehberg Ditch it is up to 600 l/s and on the Dyke Ditch up to 1000 l/s.

List of the Upper Harz ditches[edit]

Walkers by the Morgenbrodstal Ditch near Dammhaus
Zellerfeld Ditch with arches

The ditches are listed in an order which is based on the system by Preussag, who named the ditches in an order based on the power stations that could be supplied by them. At present only those working ditches still operated by the Harzwasserwerke are shown.

English Name German Name Built Length Route
Abbe Ditch Abbegraben 1827 1667 m Drain from the Abbe east of Torfhaus to the Dyke Ditch
Flörichshai Ditch Flörichshaier Graben 1827 1311 m Part of the Oder west of Torfhaus to the Dyke Ditch
Clausthal Flood Ditch Clausthaler Flutgraben 1827 4116 m Drain from the source area of the Sieber and the Sonnenkappe to the Dyke Ditch
Dyke Ditch Dammgraben 1732–1827 15.409 m From the Brocken-Bruchberg area to the Upper Hausherzberg Pond
Morgenbrodstal Ditch Morgenbrodstaler Graben 4111 m Drain from the upper course of the Söse to the Dyke Ditch
Huttal Ditch Huttaler Graben 1763 1168 m Link from Huttal Pond (†) to the Huttaler Widerwaage
Jägersbleek Ditch Jägersbleeker Graben 726 m From Jägersbleek Pond to the Fortune watercourse
Dorothea Water Wheel Ditch Dorotheer Kehrradsgraben 903 m Stag Pond to the reciprocal water wheel (diameter 8.6 m) at the Dorothea Pit
Field Ditch Feldgraben 2112 m From the southern part of the town of Clausthal to the Middle Pfauenteich
Kellerhals Ditch Kellerhalser Graben 508 m Bypass for the Upper Kellerhals Pond
Upper Schalke Ditch Oberer Schalker Graben 2721 m From the southern part of the Schalke to Hahnenklee, original length almost 9 km
Lower Schalke Ditch Unterer Schalker Graben 2721 m From the southern part of the Schalke into Kiefholz Pond
Zankwiese Bottom Ditch (also Kahleberg Fault Ditch) Zankwieser Grundgraben (also Kahleberger Bruchgraben) 329 m From Widerwaage Zankwiese Pond into Kiefholz Pond
Zellerfeld Ditch Zellerfelder Kunstgraben 4839 m Originally 6.19 km long from the Middle Kellerhals Pond to Zellerfeld
Ringer Ditch Ringer Graben 383 m From the bottom outlet of the Middle Zechen Pond to the Ringe Zechenhaus
Upper Einersberg Ditch Oberer Einersberger Graben 1250 m From the bottom outlet of the Middle Zechen Pond towards Einersberg
4th Stamp Mill Ditch 4. Pochgraben 991 m In the Zellerfeld valley, parallel to the Zellbach
Eschenbach Flood Ditch Eschenbacher Flutgraben 874 m From the Zellweg (Zellerfeld) into Lower Eschenbach Pond
Upper Eschenbach Chute Oberer Eschenbacher Fallgraben 350 m From Lower Eschenb. Pond (upper drain) to the Schinderloch
Lower Eschenbach Chute Unterer Eschenbacher Fallgraben 291 m From the Lower Eschenb. Pond (lower drain) to the Zellbach
Bremerhöhe Ditch Bremerhöher Graben 1287 m From the Schinderloch (Zellbach) to the Rosenhof mines
Schmidt's Ditch Schmidtsgraben 453 m Diversion of the Flambach around the two Flambach Ponds
Taubefrau Ditch Taubefrauer Graben 574 m Eastern inlet ditch for the Sumpfteich
Wäsche Ditch Wäschegraben 420 m From the bottom outlet of the Middle Grumbach Pond
Hedge Ditch Heckegraben 326 m Part of the Lower Rosenhof Ditches in the area of Pixhai Mill
Stadtweg Bottom Ditch Stadtweger Grundgraben 193 m From the bottom outlet of the Stadtweg Pond drain around the Mill Pond below
Jungfrau Ditch Jungfrau Graben 300 m From the Winterwiese tunnel into the Middle Zechen Pond
Elisabeth Ditch Elisabether Graben 300 m Diversion around the Lower Peacock Pond, formerly also intended to be part of the Dyke Ditch
Upper Rosenhof Chute Oberer Rosenhöfer Fall 1299 m Consists of four link ditches between the tunnels of the ORF
Lower Rosenhof Chute Unterer Rosenhöfer Fall 637 m four link ditches between the tunnels of the Lower Rosenhof Chute
Hühnerbrühe Ditch Hühnerbrüher Graben to 1725 775 m Diversion of the Hühnerbrühe into the Oderteich (western Oderteich)
Königskopf Ditch Königsköpfer Graben to 1725 1467 m Bypass for several streams of the Königskopf into the Oderteich (from the east)
Rehberg Ditch Rehberger Graben 1699 7211 m From the bottom outlet of the Oderteich to Sankt Andreasberg
Sonnenberg Ditch Sonnenberger Graben before 1600 3619 m From parts of the Sonnenberg into the Rehberg Ditch

See also[edit]


  • Knissel, Walter & Fleisch, Gerhard (2005) (in German), Kulturdenkmal "Oberharzer Wasserregal" – eine epochale Leistung (2. ed.), Clausthal-Zellerfeld: Papierflieger, ISBN 3-89720-725-7 
  • Schmidt, Martin (2002) (in German), Die Wasserwirtschaft des Oberharzer Bergbaus (3. ed.), Hildesheim: Harzwasserwerke, ISBN 3-00-009609-4 
  • Schmidt, Martin (2005) (in German), [PDF Das Kulturdenkmal Oberharzer Wasserregal], Clausthal-Zellerfeld: Harzwasserwerke, PDF 
  • Schmidt, Martin (2007) (in German), WasserWanderWege (3. ed.), Clausthal-Zellerfeld: Pieper, ISBN 3-923605-49-8  (false ISBN).

External links[edit]