Rhein-Sieg-Kreis Beyond the well-known tourist destinations, there are many places in our region that are worth a visit. One of them is the “Siegfall” in Schladern. Here is a look at the history of the waterfall and what makes it so special.
May 1 is May Day, a good time to get out and into nature. Beyond the well-known tourist attractions, there are many other places in our region that are also worth a visit. The “Siegfall” in Schladern is one of them.
The "Mäanderweg" adventure trail in the Sieg nature area leads to the Sieg Falls (Victory Falls). It starts and ends at the Windeck-Schladern train station and leads a good eight kilometers along the middle section of the Sieg. The first part of the route goes northward along the old estuary of the Sieg into the nature reserve “Krummauel”. The trail resulted when the river loop below Windeck Castle was drained for the construction of the railroad line 150 years ago.
Then it's uphill to Windeck Castle. The castle was first officially mentioned in 1174. Since then it has had many owners and been subject to many changes. It belonged to various groups of German nobility in the Middle Ages and was then taken over by Swedish invasion troops. Finally, in the 19th century, the Prussian land district administrator Oskar Danzier built a castle-like villa on the old cellar foundations for himself, his daughter Arnoldine and her Sicilian husband. But during World War II, this building also fell victim to bombing. The ruins were demolished and the stones used to rebuild the medieval walls. However, experts report that the masons rebuilt them the wrong way around.
Impressive view from the Windeck castle
The view from Windeck Castle is as beautiful today as it was in the past. From the top of the hill you can look back into the “Krummauel” nature reserve with its many rare species of plants and animals. By relocating the branch of the river for the railroad line, workers in the 19th century laid the foundation for the final destination of the outing: the “Siegfall”.
Before North Rhine-Westphalia's highest waterfall can be seen, however, the route first leads steeply downhill back into the valley to Altwindeck. There, hikers are greeted by a typical village in the Windeck region from around 100 years ago with black and white half-timbered houses of the Windeck Museum of Local History. Through Altwindeck, the route continues on to Dattenfeld, along the main road and then onto the Kolfenberg. There, one can take a break in a forest shelter - keeping your distance from other hikers during these corona times. Some will already be able to hear the Sieg waterfall in the distance.
Over another elevated ridge it then goes through the forest again and down to the Sieg. Its name comes from the Celtic word "sikkere" ("swift water") and at this point it rightfully deserves this name. The small river is not to be underestimated. A few years ago, a canoeist lost his life there, where it rushes down four meters over a rocky rise from the Palaeozoic era. Herons sit in waiting, preying on fish that get confused in the swirling waters.
“Siegfall” is a result of railroad construction
The great natural spectacle is a consequence of railroad construction. Here, a new outlet was created for the Sieg River - and, hidden underground, a hydroelectric power plant for the copper tube factory of British inventor Alexander Stanley Elmore. At the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, the pipes from Schladern were awarded a gold medal. During World War II, forced laborers from Russia had to toil here, according to a new commemorative plaque. The plant continued to operate until 1995. Elmore used hydroelectric power to generate electricity and also supplied Schladern with power. Unlike his factory, the hydroelectric plant is still in operation today.
Then in 2013, the world of arts and culture moved into the old factory halls. In addition to the "Kabelmetal" civic and cultural center, there is a beer garden on the premises, which is currently closed. There is also an information pavilion with an exhibition on the Sieg Nature Region and the tourist information office of the Windeck municipality. The last section of the "Mäanderweg" leads along the Sieg and again past the “Siegfall”, back to the train station. With a little luck, water birds can be observed along the river. Swans and geese can always be found along the shore.
(Orig. text: Andrea Ziech / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)