Last week, I participated in a Field Tripp to the “Phoenix See”. This is an artificial lake in Hörde, which is an urban district of Dortmund; a large town in Western Germany and part of the “Ruhrgebiet”.
1) The History of Hörde
Originally a separate city, Hörde was first mentioned in 1198, as a part of the County of Mark; a county of the Holy Roman Empire. During this time, the castle of Hörde was also built. In 1340, the city was officially founded by Konrad von der Mark, the earl of Mark, who gave Hörde town privileges. The Earl wanted to encircle his enemy, the town of Dortmund, by placing his own cities around it. Other examples for this strategy were the foundings of Bochum, Witten or Unna.
Burg Hörde (Castle Hörde) - built in the 12th century
The rivalry between the County of Mark and the City of Dortmund culminated in the “Dormunder Fehde”; a vicious feud, which lasted from 1388 to 1390. During this feud, many cities in the area were burning but Hörde and its castle were never conquered. A predisposing factor was certainly the location of Hörde in the swamps of the river Emscher.
After the death of Count Dietrich I., the last count of Mark, Hörde became part of the new county Kleve-Mark, which was founded at the end of the 14th century. Throughout the 15th century, the history of city was dominated by the disputes of the heirs of Kleve and Mark and the strained relationships with Dortmund.
Ruderal wasteland - typical for this area
In the 16th cenutry, Hörde was nearly destroyed by several, serious fires. At the end of the century, the town was occupied by the Netherlands for a time.
Like many cities in central Europe, Hörde suffered severely from the Thirty Years War; a brutal conflict, which devasted the continent from 1618 to 1648. The reason for this misery was not directly the war and its battles, but in the Thirty Years Wars, many cities like Hörde were looted by the armies of the parties of the conflict. Their troops came into a city and took everything they needed. So, the inhabitants suffered from hunger and diseases. During this time, Hörde was occupied by Troops from Spain, Sweden and the Holy Roman Empire.
In the second half of the century, there was no peace for the city, because it was occupied again by French troops during the Franco-Dutch-War from 1672 to 1679.
The 18th century was the age of absolutism and this also applied for Hörde. The consequences were extensive restructuring of the administrative districts in the whole German Empire. During this time, the first coal mines were built in Hörde, but the town was also a centre of the nail production.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Hörde, like the most parts of the Ruhrgebiet, were conquered by French troops under the command of Napoleon. The Occupation lasted from 1807 to 1813. The French founded the new Department of Dortmund and Hörde became a part of it.
After the End of the German campaign of the Napoleonic Wars (“Befreiungskriege”) in 1815; Hörde became part of the Department “Westfalen” with Dortmund as capital city. This era was also the beginning of the rise of the montane industry in Hörde. First, the focus was on mining, but in 1840 a businessman named Herman Dietrich Piepenstock, who also bought the castle, founded the “Hermanshütte”, an ironwork company, which open in 1942. After the death of Piepenstock, the “Hermannshütte” was transformed into the “Hörder Bergwerks- und Hütten-Verein” (Hörder Mining and Ironwork company), which was in operation until 2001.
The "new" Emscher
During this period, steel production increased rapidly and the city became a center of high-performance processing of steel at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1928, the city became part of Dortmund, what marked the end of Hördes history as independent town. However, the processing of steel continued until 2001,. when the company was closed and parts of its machines were sold to China, where they are still in action today.
2) The Phoenixsee
Phoenixsee - look to the south shore
After the closure of the steelwork company, the local government was looking for new uses of the area. The main problem of many towns in the “Ruhrgebiet” was their high specialization in mining and montane industry. With the closure of many mines and factories, large parts of the city became desolated. The remains of the old factories became rusty ruins and many people had no jobs. To solve this problem, the governments of the cities developed a plan for the resurrection of the Ruhrgebiet. The main points of this change were
- the development of a new industry with new jobs
- the removal of the old industrial plants in order to create new space
- the renaturation of areas, which were polluted by the heavy industry
In some cases, the old factories became museums or monuments. The most popular example for this is probably the famous “Zeche Zollverein” in Essen; other examples are the “Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord” in Duisburg or the “Gasometer” in Oberhausen.
In Hörde, the “Hermannshütte” was demolished and on its place, a lake was created as recreation area. This lake is the Phoenixsee, which was completed in 2011 after five years. The new lake has a total area of 24 ha and a length of nearly 1230 metres. The lake is about 310 metres wide and nearly 5 metre deep.
But the Phoenixsee isn't the only important waters in this area. The other one is the Emscher. The Emscher is one tributary of the Rhine and flows parallel to the Ruhr. For a long time, the Emscher was nothing more as a sewer and heavy polluted by the industrial wastes. After the closure of the factories, a restoration project was started. The main goal of this project is to give the Emscher a semi-natural state.
Ruderal wasteland at the Southshore
3) The Field trip
The field trip could be divided into three sections. We started at the Castle of Hörde and looked at the industrial wastelands around it. Later, we moved on until we reached the Emscher and the Phoenixsee. The field trip ended with a second, small industrial wasteland.
the renaturated Emscher
It should be said that many plants at the shores of Emscher and lake were planted, because a natural revegetation would be impossible in such a short time. However, these plants are similiar to the original vegetation.
Metrioptera roeselii - Roesels bush cricket
Argiope bruennichii - Wasp spider