The typical signs of Rhineland brown coal open-cast mining can be recognised for miles around on the flat plain east of Aachen. The huge accumulation of rubble on the "Sophienhöhe", waste material from one of the largest "holes" in Europe, the Hambach open-cast mine, and swathes of smoke rising into the sky from the cooling towers of the Weisweiler Coal Power and gathering into white clouds. Here 18 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are generated every year. Mankind´s hunger for energy has resulted in the destruction of a whole landscape, complete with all its villages. The process of destruction is still continuing and, at the same time, a new "second-hand" landscape is being created.
North-east of Eschweiler is the Inden open-cast mine, one of three brown coal open-cast mines in the Rhineland coal area where 100,000,000 tons of brown coal are mined by RWE Power every year. Immense amounts of earth are dug out here with gigantic excavators. In 2005 open-cast mining north of Lamersdorf finally reached the former course of the Inde, the river which has given its name to the open-cast mine and to the village of Inden. Over the years the Inde has been given a new bed along a length of 12 kilometres, and a section of the meadows along the bank has been re-designed along natural lines. Flat, damp zones around the banks, a huge number of trees and bushes, and wild meadows line the immediate vicinity of the river. A particularly impressive new recreation area has been created near Eschweiler-Dürwiß – the ca. 100 hectare Lake Blaustein with its so-called "snake ditch valley". This is now a favourite spot for water sports enthusiasts.
For the Garzweiler open-cast mine southeast of Mönchengladbach even a highway was laid and years later after the excavation of brown coal at almost the same place rebuilt again. As for the other open-cast mines, thousands of residents had to be resettled for Garzweiler. Excavation is planned until 2045. Subsequently, the 23 square kilometer and 185 m deep residual hole shall be converted into a lake.
Many disused mining areas have now been recultivated and put back to agricultural use or transformed into recreational areas. Visitors can visit interesting viewing points and industrial objects along the "Road of Power", either by bike (37 km) or by car (31 km). The starting point is the RWE Power information centre at "Schloss Paffendorf" in Bergheim. Here you can get the relevant brochures and maps as well as information about the viewpoints at all three open-cast mines.