Western Mazuria owes its beauty to hundreds of years of glaciations. The glacier moving forwards and backwards formed numerous elevations, valleys and thousands of lakes. Nowadays we may explore these beautiful hills while riding a car, a train or another means of transportation. In the 19 th century however this way of travelling was nothing more than the dreams of some few visionaries. It was the rapidly developing manufactories and the wood industry which forced the administration of Eastern Prussia to resolve the problem of transporting the goods across this hilly land called the Oberland (the Highlands). This is how the idea of building the Elbląg Canal emerged. Its realisation however turned out to be much more difficult, as it required overcoming the difference in water level of 100 metres between the Lake Pniewo and Lake Drużno.
Despite these obstacles, on 28 October 1844, the Dutch engineer Georg Jacob Steenke started building the canal, which was soon to become a worldwide known technical miracle.147 km in length, the canal in Poland was named after its longest section between Ostróda and Elbląg (82 km).It is here, between Małdyty and Elbląg, where visitors will find the canal’s famous and unique technical solutions. When constructing them Steenke was inspired by his travels abroad, especially by his trip to the USA, where he saw the canal’s prototype, the Morris Canal. Yet it is the mazurian machinery which is still working tirelessly transporting ships and boats across grass while surmounting the natural obstacle of different altitude levels. Five cable cars in Buczyniec, Kąty, Oleśnica, Jelenie and Całuny carry the ships via ropes. This historical construction exclusively uses the power of water, as visitors may see in one of the engine houses. The slipways’ length ranges from 350 to 550 metres, while the ride lasts about 20 minutes. Buczyniec owes the longest slipway.