The Kalflack

Once a busy waterway, now a biotope

This quiet body of water here once resembled a motorway? You can't even hear the water babbling! But in spite of the silence, the Kalflack can tell stories. Before there were HGVs or steam locomotives, transporting goods over land was very difficult. Ox carts could carry a load of one tonne and managed an impressive two to three kilometres per hour. Large quantities or heavy goods could only be transported on water. Watercourses were motorways for boats. Here is where the Kalflack connected the town of Kalkar to the Rhine. In a way, it was a sort of feeder. Kalkar profited from this because it became wealthy through the trade in wool and beer. This trade would have barely been profitable over land. But these are not the only stories about the Kalflack. It was once actually the Rhine. Before the great age of the Rhine regulation works in the 19th century, it was constantly changing its course. On a map you can see how the Kalflack leads from today's Rhine to Kalkar in wide arcs. The radii of the arcs correspond exactly to the loops made by the Rhine until it was straightened. When your eyes focus, you can see these arcs here and there in the Lower Rhine landscape, often in conjunction with Old Rhine oxbow lakes. The Rhine determined the fate of a settlement. In the worst cases, whole villages disappeared in its floods, in the best cases waterways such as the Kalflack ensured prosperity. But peace returned as modern technology took effect - the old transport routes were no longer needed. This peace and the associated quiet was the precondition for today's significance of the Kalflack. With water lilies, countless water plants and a wide variety of rare water dwellers, the Kalflack is now a precious biotope. So valuable that it is part of the NATURA 2000 European network of conservation areas and has been given FFH area status by the EU. That stands for Fauna, Flora, Habitat, which clearly illustrates the international importance of this seemingly inconspicuous watercourse.