A special piece of industrial history

The impressive water wheel has been turning in Schwalheim for more than 250 years.

Schwalheim wheel

With a diameter of 9.80 m, it is one of the largest water wheels in Europe. Since its construction by salt works director Sigismund Waitz von Eschen from 1745 to 1748, it has undergone four renovations. The last one was completed in 2014.

The waterwheel on the course of the Wetter River still fascinates visitors today. It impresses with its size, and you can almost imagine how it used to work ceaselessly as part of the salt production facilities. The water wheel used to drive a pumping station with a 1.3 km long timber flatrod construction, which transported brine to the graduation towers of the Bad Nauheim salt works. The energy can still be felt with every turn of the wheel. Today, 84 paddles remain, with a width of 1.25 metres.

The water wheel with the number “Seven” was the largest of the original seven water wheels at the Nauheim salt works, and is affectionately known locally as the “Big Wheel”. The water art, as it is technically called, used to drive seven water pumps and six pressure works. Supplying as it did 100 % renewable energy with zero emissions, the water wheel was ahead of its time.

The wheel and flatrods were maintained from the beginning by a so-called art caretaker, for whom the house at the waterwheel was also built. It is still there today and transports the visitor to another age. Nowadays, this maintenance is carried out on a voluntary basis.


Schwalheimer Arbeitskreis Geschichte

Alexander Jung
Schwalheimer Hauptstraße 44
61231 Bad Nauheim

Wind- und Wasserkunst Bad Nauheim e.V.

Dr. Thomas Schwab
Gustav-Kayser-Straße 23
61231 Bad Nauheim
© Anja Epkes

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