Wiesmoor is a town in Lower Saxony that now has a population of more than 30,000. It lies 30 km south-west of Wilhelmshaven, not far from the border with the Netherlands. It stands within an expanse of wetlands where some colonisation took place from the 1780s. The town itself originated with the building of the Nordgeorgfehn Canal which was opened in 1906, and drained the wetlands as well as providing transport facilities. The purpose of the town was to enable the exploitation of peat reserves on an industrial scale, particularly to be used as fuel in a power station planned by Carl Friedrich von Siemens (1872-1941), which began generating in 1909. Waste heat from the power station warmed glasshouses in which flowers and vegetables were cultivated, and the town became known as the ‘flower city’. During the Second World War there was a forced labour camp in the area whose inmates were forced to labour in the peat workings. After 1945 flower growing expanded with the construction of more glasshouses, and in 1952 the first Blütenfest (flower festival) was organised in Wiesmoor. It was one of the factors, with the building of baths, a health centre and an open-air theatre, that made the area attractive to holiday makers, and tourism is now one of its principal industries. The peat-fired power station was dismantled in 1966 and replaced by a gas turbine power station which itself was demolished in 1995.
The Peat and Colony Museum, created gradually since 1988, contains many buildings that show the new colonisation of the moorland landscapes of Lower Saxony from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century. It also shows the history of the peat extraction industry in the region. Some buildings are original, some relocated here and some reconstructed based on examples elsewhere. The features displayed include a village shop, a bakehouse, a typical colonist’s house, a smithy, a sawmill, a school and a well. The equipment from the peat industry includes large machinery – diesel-powered turf cutters, excavators and conveyors. A narrow-gauge railway that carried the peat around the site is in working order and brings visitors from the Wiesmoor flower market. Two flat-bottomed sailing barges that carried peat to the cities and the North Sea are floating nearby..