I live near the Welland Canal, an inland waterway that connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie and allows ships to ascend and descend the Niagara Escarpment and bypass Niagara Falls through a system of locks that are like stairs. It is also one of Niagara's major tourist attractions. A similar system was considered to join the Meuse and Scheldt rivers in Belgium to enable the transportation of goods. But the 96 meter height difference between the rivers would require as many as 32 locks, which was cost prohibitive. An English hydraulic engineer named Edwin Clark came to the rescue with a proposal for four boat lifts instead of locks. These were completed in 1917. The Strépy-Thieu boat lift (above) was completed in 2002 and bypasses the original 4 lifts which have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site .
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