There are a lot of logistical problems that pop up when you build a 600-foot structure like the Three Gorges Dam in China’s Hubei province. For example, how do ships navigate the sudden extreme difference in water heights on either side of the dam? That’s an easy one. You just build the world’s largest elevator capable of lifting 6.7 million pounds of boat and water.

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The recently opened elevator, which itself weighs some 15,500 tons, can lift ships and freighters over 370 feet and is expected to increase the shipping capacity of the dam by six million tons of goods every year. It previously took ships over three hours to navigate and get through the dam. The elevator reduces that to just 40 minutes—although, 40 minutes of elevator music could actually feel like an eternity.

[YouTube via Likecool]