The Hindenburgdamm or Hindenburg Dam is an 11 km-long causeway joining the North Frisian island of Sylt to mainland Schleswig-Holstein, off the coast of Germany. It was opened in 1927 exclusively for rail transport. Before the causeway was built, the connection to the island was at the mercy of the tides, and in winter, the ice in the Wadden Sea formed an impenetrable barrier. The crossing took about six hours in adverse weather and flow conditions lasted longer. As the seaside resort of Westerland, on Sylt, became increasingly popular, officials started planning for the rail causeway.
The original plan was to build a train route from the port at the Hoyerschleuse to the island, but after World War I, Germany was obliged to cede the Hoyerschleuse to Denmark while Sylt remained part of Germany. Owing to the new border, the old route to Sylt was now cut off, except if travellers wanted to go to the trouble of obtaining a Danish visa to make a short trip through Danish territory. Because the situation was unacceptable, the causeway re-routed entirely through Germany.
Construction of the causeway began in 1923 and during the next four years, more than three million were cubic meters of sand and clay, as well as 120,000 tons of stones were moved from the mainland to the site. The dam was named after the then Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, who opened the railway on 1 June 1927.
For the first 45 years of its existence the Hindenburgdamm had a single track. In 1972 it was widened and a second track was laid. Today, more than 100 trains pass over the causeway every day, with half of those ferrying cars as there is no road link to Sylt.
Aerial view of the Hindenburgdamm. Photo credit
A train passes the signal box HDM in the middle of the Hindenburgdamm. Photo credit
A dramatically photoshopped image showing a train travelling over the Hindenburgdamm on a rough sea appeared on postcards published in the 1970s. Photo credit
Another photoshopped image of the Hindenburgdamm. Photo credit
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