A Dutch Treat
The Dutch are, without a doubt, the most impressive hydrological engineers on the planet.
You really have to be when much of your country lies below sea level and is vulnerable to floods. I could spend blog post after blog post talking about how impressive the Dutch are at what they do, and I might just do so at some point. For now, though, I'm exploring one of the most innovative pieces of hydrological engineering they created: the Dutch Water Line.
The Dutch Water Line was a series of defenses built to flood huge chunks of the Netherlands (then Holland) if invading forces threatened. Engineers first dreamed up the idea in the early seventeenth century and built it quickly afterward.
The idea didn't appear from thin air (or, er, shallow water). The Dutch eighty-year war of independence against Spain featured several instances of flooding used as a defense. Yet, building out this new concept—to cut off all of Holland was a much larger and more ambitious step forward. The Dutch finished the line in just a few short years. Which brings us to the early 1630s.
Less than four decades later, strategists first tested Dutch Water Line during the Franco-Dutch War, also known as the Third Anglo-Dutch War. (Keeping track of European wars is an exhausting and unrewarding task that I've never bothered to pursue, except in reference to more interesting parts of history.)
The Dutch Water Line managed to keep the French armies out, while the Dutch somehow managed to defeat the terrifying English navy at sea.
The Dutch Water Line was used several more times throughout its history, to mixed success. Waiting for the body to freeze over—in order to cross—was an entirely viable strategy.
Modern bombers and missiles have largely rendered the defensive line useless. Instead, the Dutch now often use those drained lowlands of the water line for bicycle and hiking trails. And today, we’ll find many natures reserves along and around the line.
Swords into plowshares.
The Yard Ramp Guy®: Material Strength
This week, my friend The Yard Ramp Guy measures the strength of steel and looks at possible innovations in the industry. (Nice shout out to vibranium!)
Check out his terrific post HERE.