Thursday, June 21, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 44

Göta Canal, Sweden, ca 1900

This is an Axel Eliasson postcard #3309 published in Stockholm, Sweden early 1900s.  Like some of the other cards of this vintage it is another that was tinted and then reproduced in color. 

The Swedish Göta Canal links rivers and lakes across Sweden from Göteborg on the west to Söderköping on the Baltic Sea to the east making a continuous waterway of about 382 miles in total.  The canal itself is 118 miles long about half that length had to be dug or blasted with widths varying from 23 to 46 feet and a maximum depth of 9 feet.  There are 58 locks that can accommodate vessels up to 105 feet long, 21 feet wide having slightly less than a 9-foot draft.  The canal is sometimes called the “divorce ditch” because of all the trouble couples endure while trying to navigate the locks by themselves. 

The idea for a canal was suggested as early as the 1500s but it was not until 1810 that the project was actually financed and undertaken.  It took 22 years of effort by more than 58,000 workers to complete.  It opened in 1832 but with the railways arriving in 1855 the canal did not prove to be the hoped for economic success.  Trains were able to transport both goods and passengers more rapidly all year round while the canal was shut down in the winter months.  Bulk goods such as forest products, ore and coal that did not require rapid transportation were about the only items sent via the canal.  The canal is still used to transport some cargo but today it is primarily used for recreation and tourist pleasure cruises.  It is called Sveriges blå band or Sweden’s Blue Ribbon.  About two million people visit the canal each year.

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