Scotland: The Falkirk Wheel

Travels with the Blonde Coyote

Behold the Falkirk Wheel! This incredible contraption helps link a waterway that runs all the way across Scotland. When I first saw pictures of this space-age boat lift, I couldn’t figure out how it worked. But after seeing it turn in person, it all makes sense! Named for the nearby village of Falkirk, the wheel employs gears, hydraulics and Archimedes’ Principle to raise small boats 8 stories in the air in under 10 minutes, eliminating a series of 11 locks that used to take all day to navigate.

The day we visited, no boats were going through the lift, but an operator offered to run the thing for us and even asked which direction we’d like to see it spin. Each rotation only takes about 1.5 kilowatt-hours of power and the whole contraption costs only about $15 a day in electricity to run on a constant schedule. More info on…

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