The Reddal canal

Ågre river from Reddalsvatnet to Landvikvatnet and further to Strandfjorden (an arm of the sea) west of Grimstad was an important route long before it was canalized. Timber floating was common and many ships were built at yards around the two lakes. Before Ågre river reached the sea it had to pass Dammen, a natural moraine. The waterfall was about 2 meter which made timber floating impossible and the ships had to be drawn over land. But this fall also gave power to mills and sawmills.
The aim was to blow up a canal through Dammen and build a canal all the way from Reddal to the sea. At the same time the waterlevel in the two lakes would be lowered by about 2 meter which would give about 1318 hectare of new land to 84 farmers.
The works started in 1876. Mills and saw mills were torn down and today only the millstones are left. A new bridge was built over the canal between Reddalsvatn and Landvikvatn. The old bridge was reconstructed in 1993.
The canal was ready for use in 1880. It is 3 kilometers between the sea and Landvikvatn and 500 meter between Landvikvatn and Reddalsvatn.
In 1881 a steamer started a route between Grimstad and Reddal through the canal. The experiences during the first summer showed that the walls of the canal had to be strengthened to bear the waves of the steamer. After further works the canal was officially opened in 1882.
The steamertraffic lasted only a few years. Timber floating had also come to an end. Today only pleasure boats use the canal. You can still see the old millstones at Dammen and by Ågersbro a sign shows the waterlevel 1877, before the canalization.
Reddalsvatn is a nature reserved area with restrictions for boat speed, 7 knots, camping and fishing. The boat speed and fishing are restricted in the whole canal. The traffic with pleasure boats are increasing which also increases the damage on canal walls and shores. It is more necessary than ever to act responsible both to the canal, the wild life and to people living in the area.
The Reddal canal was announced the Prime cultural heritage of Grimstad municipality in 1997.

Jahn Børe Jahnsen

This picture is shot from under the E18-bridge and shows the canal upstreams towards Landvikvannet. You can catch a glimpse of the bridge that was for E18 until about 1980 in the background.

This  picture was shot in the same area but a little closer to the old bridge. This is where the canal is most narrow and the stream can be rather strong here from time to time.

E18-bridge over the canal

Sunseekers by the canal, just upstreams the E18-bridge

This picture is shot from under the E18-bridge and shows the canal upstreams towards Landvikvannet. You can catch a glimpse of the bridge that was for E18 until about 1980 in the background.

This picture was shot in the same area but a little closer to the old bridge. This is where the canal is most narrow and the stream can be rather strong here from time to time.

E18-bridge over the canal

Sunseekers by the canal, just upstreams the E18-bridge

© Pictures by Karen Karlsen

Pictures from the inaugeration of the canal in 2004

From the inauguration 2004

From the inauguration 2004

From the inauguration 2004

From the inauguration 2004

© Pictures by Pål Bach

From the inauguration 2004

From the inauguration 2004

From the inauguration 2004

These pictures were shot during the inauguration in September 2004. They were shot at a place called Dammen, were the canal ends in the sea.

© Pictures by Pål Bach

It might seem odd, but shipbuilding has been a major trade in this area. Not only by the sea but also around Landviksvannet and Reddalsvannet. In this area there were plenty of forests with good wood for shipbuilding and plenty of good carpenters needing to earn extra. But of course it was no easy task to take the ships to the sea. The part between Reddalsvannet and Landviksvannet was the worst part.
The last part down to the sea was also rather tricky. At Dynemyr the river was wide and shallow and very close to the sea Dammen was the last obstacle.
One of the most famous Norwegian ships built here was S:t Oluf, a warship weighing 2 600 tons and with a crew of 1 500 men. It was built for king Fredrik II by Erick Munck at Møllepynten. To get the ship to the open sea Erick dredged the river at Dynemyr and moved the main stream from one side of the little island Dyneholmen to the other. These works were performed in 1570.

When the canal was built the waterlevel in Landviksvannet and Reddalsvannet was lowered between 2,1 and 2,5 meter and reached the same level as the sea. That meant that salt water got into the lakes, especially at high tides. Very soon the sweet water fishes that used to live in the lakes dissappeared. But there has been no noticable increase of saltwater fish in the lakes.

According to Den Norske Los the lowest free height in the canal is 7 meter. The depth in the canal has not been proparly measured in recent years but the Grimstad council states that it is no less then 3 feet at low water, so close to 1 meter. This goes for the canal between Landvikvannet and Reddalsvannet.

During the first years of the 21st century the canal has been restored. This was celebrated at a memorable inauguration in september 2004.

Late in 2006 works started on a new four lane bridge for E18 over the canal. This new bridge will be built were an old E18 bridge was situated. That bridge has been for pedastrians and bicycles the last decades.


Sources: "Kanalvæsenets Historie" part VIII 1883, information supplied by Jan Børe Jahnsen 2002. The Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage. The brochure "Reddalskanalen" (Kulturminneåret 1997), you can it at Grimstad Tourist office. Den Norske Los, part 2B, 1999. Ove Bach, gardener for Grimstad municipality.
Do send comments or further information to Bosse Arnholm!

 

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This page was modified at 12-08-06