The 'Elsterfloßgraben' Rafting Ditch

The "Weißelster" timber rafting system with its component Elsterfloßgraben was the most extensive firewood transport system of modern times in Europe, it was in operation from 1578-1864 and made an important contribution to the energy supply in the transition to the industrial age. The Elsterfloßgraben as a technical monument stretches across three federal countries, starting in Crossen an der Elster (Thuringia), via Zeitz to Bad Dürrenberg and Leuna (Saxony-Anhalt), a branch followed from Pegau to Leipzig (Saxony). With its length of almost 100 kilometres, the rafting ditch Elsterflossgraben represents one of the longest surviving artificial ditch systems in Europe. "Elsterflossgraben"  was thus of outstanding importance for the modern economic history of central Germany and was an essential prerequisite for the industrialisation of this region. Primarily designed to supply firewood to the saltworks of the Electorate of Saxony (Teuditz and Kötzschau), the "Elsterflossgraben" rafting ditch developed into an energy supplier for the towns and communities around Halle/Saale and Leipzig. There were long-term contracts with both the salt panners from Halle and the Leipzig city council to supply the Halle saltworks and the population with firewood. Millions of logs were thus floated from the Vogtland forests over the course of time. In Teuditz (a district of today's Bad Dürrenberg), the founder of scientific pharmacy in Germany, J.B. Trommsdorff, opened a chemical factory in 1812 that processed by-products of salt production and is considered one of the first nuclei of today's chemical region. With the increasing use of coal as fuel and the railway as a transport system, timber rafting lost importance and was ceased.

Visitors can learn about log rafting, which together with timber rafting as a whole has been an intangible cultural heritage of the Federal Republic of Germany since 2014, as well as about the raft ditch as a technical monument of hydraulic engineering and its effect today as an ecological interconnected system, through tourist offers such as excursions, lectures or practical log rafting. In this way, intangible and tangible heritage can be linked and make this come alive.

The 'Elsterfloßgraben' Rafting Ditch
Am Herrmannschacht 11
06712 Zeitz
+49 (0) 170 - 3204966

Recommended duration of visit:4-6 Hours
Duration of a guided tour:120 Minutes
Access for persons with disabilities:For details see website
Infrastructure for children:

The course of the "Elsterfloßgraben" is freely accessible at numerous points.
Guided tours at several point of the rafting ditch system; in Zeitz (Am Herrmannschacht 11):
Monday - Friday 9am-1pm by prior appointment; fee according to duration

  • Guided tours optional