Augustów Canal

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Augustów Canal
Polish: Kanał Augustowski
Belarusian: Аўгустоўскі канал
Bulwar w Augustowie.JPG
Augustów Canal in Augustów
Specifications
Length 62.88 miles (101.20 km)
Locks 18
Status Open
Navigation authority Regional Water Management Authority in Warsaw (RZGW Warsawa)
History
Principal engineer Ignacy Prądzyński
Other engineer(s) Jan Chrzciciel de Grandville Malletski
Jan Paweł Lelewel
Construction began 1823
Date completed 1839
Geography
Start point Biebrza River near
Dębowo, Poland
End point Neman River near
Sapotskin, Belarus
Connects to Bystry Canal

The Augustów Canal (Polish: Kanał Augustowski, [ˈkanau̯ au̯ɡusˈtɔfski], Belarusian: Аўгустоўскі канал) is a cross-border canal built in the 19th century in the present-day Podlaskie Voivodeship of northeastern Poland and the Grodno Region of north-western Belarus (then the Augustów Voivodeship of the Kingdom of Poland). From the time it was first built, the canal was described by experts as a technological marvel, with numerous sluices contributing to its aesthetic appeal.

It was the first summit level canal in Central Europe to provide a direct link between the two major rivers, Vistula River through the Biebrza River – a tributary of the Narew River, and the Neman River through its tributary – the Czarna Hancza River, and it provided a link with the Black Sea to the south through the Oginski Canal, Daugava River, Berezina Canal and Dnieper River. It uses a post-glacial channel depression, forming the chain of Augustów lakes, and the river valleys of the Biebrza, the Netta, the Czarna Hancza and the Neman, which made it possible to perfectly integrate the Canal with the surrounding elements of the natural environment.

The reasons behind the construction of the Augustów Canal were both political and economic. In 1821 Prussia introduced repressively high customs duties for transit of Polish and Lithuanian goods through its territory, which practically blocked the access of Polish traders to the Baltic Sea through the Vistula River. In 1822 the Kingdom of Poland was granted commercial autonomy from Russian Empire's customs area. In the years 1823–1839 a waterway was constructed, bypassing the Prussian territory, intended eventually to link, via the Windawski Canal, the center of the Kingdom of Poland with the Baltic seaport of Ventspils. This goal was relinquished due to unrest caused by the 1830–1831 November Uprising against Russia and revised trade agreements with Prussia.

The completed part of the Augustów Canal remained an inland waterway of local significance used for commercial shipping and to transport wood to and from the Vistula and Neman Rivers until rendered obsolete by the regional railway network.

History[edit]

Construction and operations (1821–1850)
The reasons behind the construction of the Augustów Canal were both political and economic.[1] In 1821 Prussia introduced repressively high customs duties for transit of Polish and Lithuanian goods through its territory, practically blocking the access to the sea for Polish traders operating outside of Prussian territory.[2][3] In 1822 the Kingdom of Poland was granted commercial autonomy from Russian Empire's customs area.[4] The idea of Polish Minister of Economy, Franciszek Ksawery Drucki-Lubecki, was to make the new trade route independent of the Prussian seaport of Danzig (Gdańsk).[5]

In 1823–1839 a waterway designed by General Ignacy Prądzyński, French General and engineer Jan Chrzciciel de Grandville Malletski and General Jan Paweł Lelewel was constructed, including buildings and hydraulic engineering structures, intended to bypass Prussian territory and link the center of the Kingdom of Poland with the Baltic seaport of Ventspils (Polish: Windawa).[6][7][8][9] The building of the final "windawski" section[7][10] of the waterway (Windawski Canal), which was to connect the new trading route to Ventspils, was relinquished due to unrest caused by the 1830–1831 November Uprising against Russia and revised trade agreements with Prussia.[7][9]

Decline and abandonment (1850–1920)
During the latter half of the 19th century the rail network, such as nearby the Saint Petersburg – Warsaw Railway, started to replace the canal as the primary means of transporting goods. The channel gradually began to decline, from 1852 on it floated only forest products and from mid-1860s the canal channel was scored.[7]

Rebirth and destruction (1920–1945)
The First World War and the Polish-Soviet War caused some damage to the canal, but it was rebuilt by the Second Polish Republic during the early 1920s. Between the World Wars the canal became a tourist attraction for the first time. It was a picturesque tourist route providing excellent sporting opportunities for canoeists, sailors and boaters. World War II saw the destruction of a number of locks and weirs of the canal. During the Second World War, German troops blew up three locks, about a dozen bridges and eight weir.[8] After World War II the Polish part of the canal has been restored.[8]

Division and reconstruction (1950–2005)
The post-war redrawing of the eastern Polish border, see Curzon Line had a significant impact upon the canal. The Border Agreement between Poland and the USSR of 16 August 1945 drew a segment of the Polish-Belorussian SSR border along the axis of the Kurzyniec Lock and further along the axis of the canal for an additional 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi). During the 1950s the People's Republic of Poland rebuilt the canal from the start on the Bezbra to Tartak Lock the remaining portion in Poland was left inactive after the damage incurred from World War II.[8] The USSR performed no repairs on the portion of the canal within the Belorussian SSR.[8] The Belorussian part of the canal since the partition has become a unique ecosystem, in 1970 the Sapotskinsky Biological Reserve was created to help preserve the area.[11]

According to the decision of the Polish Minister of Culture and the Arts from 21 December 1968 the Augustów Canal on the section from Augustów to the state border with the infrastructure: locks, dams, bridges, housing banks, building maintenance services, environment, landscape and plant was declared a monument of technology Class I.[8] Then, on 9 Feb 1979, the Voivode's decision Suwalki Augustów Canal for its entire length was entered in the register of monuments.[8]

Treasured status (2005 – present)
On 8 June 2005, based on Council of Ministers Resolution No. 125/2005 of 22 May 2005 concluded the "Agreement between the Government of the Polish Republic and the Government of the Republic of Belarus on the reconstruction of the Augustów Canal section of the border."[8] The aim of the project was to restore the canal to operable condition for tourists, provide rational water management in the Black Hańcza river valley and restore the natural ecosystem of the waterway.[8] Another event is the recognition of the Augustów Canal as a Monument of History — Regulation of the Polish President of 15 April 2007 (Dz. U. Nr 86 poz. 572).[8] The canal is currently a conservation protection zone proposed by Poland and Belarus for inscription onto the World Heritage List of UNESCO.[12]

Geography[edit]

Augustów Canal is in the lower right of the map

The canal utilizes a postglacial depression and numerous valleys in the Masurian Lake District that were shaped by the Pleistocene ice age. Many of the surrounding hills are parts of moraines and many of its lakes are moraine-dammed lakes. It is based in the long natural chain of Augustów lakes and the adjoining rivers.[13] The qualities of the landscape made it possible to perfectly integrate the canal with its environment over its 101.20 km length. The watershed area of the canal on the Polish side of the border is 74.25 km² and on the Belarusian side, 8.42 km² for a total of 82.67 km².[13]

The canal connects seven natural moraine-dammed lakes: Necko, Białe, Studzieniczne, Orle, Paniewo, Krzywe and Mikaszewo; and 11 rivers: Biebrza, Netta, Czarna Hańcza, Klonownica, Plaska (Sucha Rzeczka, Serwianka), Mikaszówka, Perkucia, Szlamica, Wolkuszanka, Ostaszanka and Neman.[13] The natural waterways are interconnected by cuttings and hydraulic installations with locks and weirs, including towpaths along the canal bank and a system of roads, bridges and buildings.[13] A water reserve feeding the canal is provided from outside the buffer zone by the Sajno, Serwy and Wigry lakes, all within the boundaries of the protected area. Six historic sluices, Przewięź, Paniewo, Perkuć, Sosnówek, Tartak and Kudrynki, are easy to access from the green trail used by hikers and cyclists.[13]

Economics[edit]

The Augustów Canal remained, after completion, an inland waterway of local significance that was used for commercial shipping and to transport wood to and from the Vistula River and Neman River.[8] The canal was used to transport the flour, salt, grain, chalk, gypsum, etc. In Augustów a large port was built in addition to a number of tow paths for horses to pull barges upstream. The canal was designed for the passage of vessels up to 40 m long, up to 5 m in width and capable of carrying up to 10 tons of cargo.[7]

During the latter half of the 19th century the rail network, such as nearby the Saint Petersburg – Warsaw Railway, started to replace the canal as the primary means of transporting goods. The channel gradually began to decline, from 1852 on it floated only forest products and from mid-1860s the canal channel was scored.[7]

Starting in the late 1920s the canal became a tourist attraction for the first time. It was a picturesque tourist route providing excellent sporting opportunities for canoeists, sailors and boaters.[8] After World War II the Polish part of the canal has been restored.[8]

Currently the canal offers numerous sightseeing and tourist attractions. Its unsurpassed beauty comes from the natural qualities of the landscape with coniferous forests and lakes, especially around the Biebrza and Netta Rivers, and it runs through the Augustów Primeval Forest from west to east.[14] The biggest attraction is to navigate the waterway in a kayak, canoe, fishing boat or a motorboat.[14] It is also possible to visit part of the canal and the Augustów lakes in a passenger ship.[15]

Canal infrastructure[edit]

Augustów Lock is the fifth lock on the canal

The Augustów Canal was the first summit level canal in Central Europe to provide a direct link between the two major rivers, Vistula River through the Biebrza River – a tributary of the Narew River, and the Neman River through its tributary – the Czarna Hancza River, and it provided a link with the Black Sea to the south through the Oginski Canal, Daugava River, Berezina Canal and Dnieper River. From the time it was first built, the canal was described by experts as a technological marvel, with numerous sluices contributing to its aesthetic appeal.[16]

The Augustów Canal, consisting of 18 locks and 22 sluices, is divided into two sections:[13][16][17]

  • West — from the merger of the Biebrza lock Augusta (0.0 – 32.50 km)
  • East — from lock to lock Niemnowo Augusta Belarus (32.50 – 101.20 km)

Vistula river watershed[edit]

Biebrza River to Augustów Lock (0.0 – 32.50 km)

Kilometer Description Coordinates
0.0 Start at the Biebrza River (84.2 km from the river source)[6][8]
0.35–10.95 Canalized Netta River[6][8]
0.35 Dębowo Lock and weir[6][8] 53°36′36″N 22°55′48″E / 53.609978°N 22.930051°E / 53.609978; 22.930051
10.95–32.50 Lateral canal parallel to the Netta River[6][8]
13.20 Sosnowo Lock. Weir to discharge excess water from the Sosnowo-Borki segment to the Netta River[6][8] 53°42′01″N 22°55′34″E / 53.700272°N 22.926201°E / 53.700272; 22.926201
19.25 Borki Lock[6][8] 53°45′18″N 22°54′54″E / 53.755095°N 22.915075°E / 53.755095; 22.915075
19.35 Weir to discharge excess water from the Borki-Białobrzegi segment to the Netta River[6][8] 53°45′23″N 22°54′54″E / 53.756433°N 22.915033°E / 53.756433; 22.915033
24.80 Weir to discharge excess water from the Borki-Białobrzegi segment to the Netta River[6][8] 53°47′48″N 22°56′43″E / 53.796686°N 22.945384°E / 53.796686; 22.945384
26.60 The canal passes through the village of Białobrzegi, Weir to discharge excess water from the Borki-Białobrzegi segment to the Netta River[6][8] 53°48′17″N 22°57′59″E / 53.804657°N 22.96637°E / 53.804657; 22.96637
27.10 Białobrzegi Lock[6][8] 53°48′25″N 22°58′07″E / 53.806976°N 22.968698°E / 53.806976; 22.968698
27.60 Weir to discharge excess water from the Białobrzegi-Augustów segment to Lake Sajno[6][8]
32.50 Augustów Lock and Augustów Weir. The weir controls the outflow from Lake Necko to Lake Sajna via the Bystry Canal (Polish: Kanał Bystry). The purpose is to establish a reserve water storage to supply the Augustów-Dębowo section of the canal.[6][8] 53°50′29″N 22°59′27″E / 53.841365°N 22.990948°E / 53.841365; 22.990948

Niemen river watershed[edit]

Augustów Lock to Neman River (32.50 km – 101.20 km)

Kilometer Description Coordinates
32.50–43.50 The canal crosses Lake Necko (1,7 km) and Lake Białe (6,7 km)[6][8]
43.50 Przewięź Lock[6][8] 53°52′02″N 23°05′32″E / 53.867143°N 23.092189°E / 53.867143; 23.092189
43.50–47.50 The canal crosses Lake Studzieniczne[6][8]
47.40 Swoboda Lock[6][8] 53°52′00″N 23°08′42″E / 53.866653°N 23.1451°E / 53.866653; 23.1451
47.40–57.00 Summit level canal with portions traversing Lake Swoboda and Lake Gorczyckie[6][8]
53.00 Connection to Lake Serwy[6][8]
57.00 Gorczyca Lock[6][8] 53°54′24″N 23°14′50″E / 53.90663°N 23.24726°E / 53.90663; 23.24726
57.00–60.90 artificial canal and traversal of Lake Orlewo and Lake Paniewo[6][8]
60.90 Paniewo Lock[6][8] 53°53′55″N 23°17′54″E / 53.898664°N 23.298331°E / 53.898664; 23.298331
63.00 Perkuć Lock[6][8] 53°53′57″N 23°19′08″E / 53.8991°N 23.318835°E / 53.8991; 23.318835
63.00–69.10 a short artificial canal and traversal of Lake Mikaszewo, near the village of Mikaszówka[6][8]
69.10 Mikaszówka Lock and Weir[6][8] 53°53′23″N 23°23′48″E / 53.889625°N 23.396562°E / 53.889625; 23.396562
70.30 Sosnówek Lock and Weir[6][8] 53°53′29″N 23°24′48″E / 53.891393°N 23.413226°E / 53.891393; 23.413226
70.50–94.60 Canalized Czarna Hańcza River[6][8]
74.40 Tartak Lock and Weir[6][8] 53°52′57″N 23°27′41″E / 53.882391°N 23.461454°E / 53.882391; 23.461454
77.40 Kudrynki Lock and Weir[6][8] 53°52′43″N 23°30′06″E / 53.878493°N 23.501558°E / 53.878493; 23.501558
80.00–83.40 The Poland-Belarus border runs along the axis of the canal for 3.4 kilometres (2.1 mi)[6][8]
81.75 Kurzyniec Lock and Weir. Site of the former village of Kurzyniec.[6][8] 53°51′49″N 23°31′26″E / 53.86364°N 23.523851°E / 53.86364; 23.523851
83.40 Wołkuszek Weir[6][8]
83.40–101.20 Segment of the canal in Belarus[6][8]
85.00 Wołkuszek Lock[6][8]
91.50 Dąbrówka Lock and Weir[6][8] 53°51′46″N 23°37′25″E / 53.862862°N 23.623599°E / 53.862862; 23.623599
94.60 The Czarna Hańcza River flows in a natural channel to the Neman River[6][8]
94.60–101.20 Lateral canal parallel to the Czarna Hańcza River[6][8]
100.00 Kurkul Weir to discharge excess water from the Dąbrówka-Niemnowo segment to the Neman River[6][8]
101.20 Niemnowo Lock[6][8] 53°52′14″N 23°45′23″E / 53.870561°N 23.756261°E / 53.870561; 23.756261
101.20 Neman River[6][8] 53°52′14″N 23°45′23″E / 53.870561°N 23.756261°E / 53.870561; 23.756261

Recognition[edit]

The canal is currently a conservation protection zone proposed by Poland and Belarus for inscription onto the World Heritage List of UNESCO. This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on January 30, 2004, in the Cultural category.[18]

The canal was also named one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments (Pomnik historii), as designated May 16, 2007. Its listing is maintained by the National Heritage Board of Poland.

References[edit]

  1. ^ von Treitschke, Heinrich (1916). Treitschke's History of Germany in the Nineteenth Century. New York: McBride Nast & Company. p. 497. 
  2. ^ Askenazy, Szymon (1921). Dantzig & Poland. London: George Allen & Unwin LTD. pp. 83–84. 
  3. ^ Cohn, Gustav (1895). The Science of Finance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 397. 
  4. ^ Wandycz, Piotr Stefan (1975). The lands of partitioned Poland, 1795–1918. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 80. 
  5. ^ "ZSO Płaska-kanał". Retrieved 31 May 2011.  (Polish)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an "Kanał Augustowski". kanaly.info. Retrieved 19 April 2011.  (Polish)
  7. ^ a b c d e f Mieczysław, Jackiewicz (2006). Litwa: podróż sentymentalna. Warsaw.  (Polish)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az "Augustów Canal — Regional Water Management Authority in Warsaw (RZGW Warsawa)". Retrieved 31 May 2011.  (Polish)
  9. ^ a b "Russian Commerce in the Black Sea". The Bankers' magazine: 500. January 1855. 
  10. ^ The European War, Volume IV, July–September 1915. New York: The New York Times Company. 1915. pp. 1093, 1095. 
  11. ^ Туристская энциклопедия Беларуси. Мн. Беларуская Энцыклапедыя, 2007. — 648с. (Belarusian)
  12. ^ Tentative list of Polish submissions to UNESCO
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Kanał Augustowski OVERIVIEW — Regional Water Management Authority in Warsaw (RZGW Warsawa)". Retrieved 31 May 2011.  (Polish)
  14. ^ a b "NATURE: WATER, WATER, WATER...". Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  15. ^ "Augustów i okolice — przewodnik turystyczny". Retrieved 2011-07-02.  (Polish)
  16. ^ a b M . Gawlicki and M . Kosior-Kazberuk (2009). "Restoration of historic hydro-technical concrete structures". Concrete Solutions: 153–155. doi:10.1201/9780203864005.ch26. ISBN 978-0-415-55082-6. 
  17. ^ "GEOHERITAGE AND INTERNATIONAL BORDERS-Perspective for Sustainable Development". 2007. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  18. ^ UNESCO Tentative List

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°52′N 22°58′E / 53.867°N 22.967°E / 53.867; 22.967