The lock at Sperillen
Aerial photo from 1963 of the dam with lock
The dam with the boatlift in 1995
Picture: Jahn Børe Jahnsen
Blueprint of the old lock
Blueprint of the new boatlift
There were great plans for a canal here around 1850. It was even decided in Parliament about a canal from Randselva up to Ådal, but the interest in railways was bigger. The canal would have one dam and 7 locks at Hønefoss, two dams and 9 locks at Hofsfoss, threee dams and 2 locks at Svinefoss and four dams and 8 locks at Hensfoss. All this for 4 million kroner.
This was the same cost as a railway on the same distance, but around 1850 railways was something modern, and won the battle at a large meeting for communications at Hønefoss September 12. 1859. At this meeting there were representatives from all necessary municipalities. The decision was to build a railway. But the Ådal municipality wanted the Began river to be made navigable up to lake Sperillen.
The final decision was made June 13.1863 for the so called Drammen - Randsfjord railway, with a branch line to Hen. The Begna river should be made navigable for smaller steamboats from Hen to Sperillen.
Engineer Riis, follwed by engineer Lassen, was in charge of the canal construction 1864 - 1868.
The estimate was that the canal should cost 40.000 kroner, but in the end the price was 70.000 kroner, mainly because of the timber floating considerations.
The circumstances turned out less favourable for the boat traffic than expected. The water level was too dependent on spring floods, rain and the needs for water for the factories downstream. Sometimes the factories had to close down temporarily for the steamboat to pass, and sometimes there was too much water for the boats to go upstream.
A dam was built at Killingstrømmen 1888, but did not last many years.
Another dam was built 1903 - 1906. A lock was built for the steamboat to pass the dam.
The lock was 35,5 meters long, 6,3 meters wide and the boats were lifted 2,1 meter.
In 1963 a new dam was built and the lock was removed. A system of rails and wagons was built to make it possible for boats to pass the dam. This transport system existed until 2005.
It was the Begna River Regulations Association that built this modern dam for 2,9 million kroner.
Even if things indicated that the timber floating would not last long, the association was forced to make it possible for floating timber to pass the dam and for the tugboat Bjønn to be lifted over the dam when the lock was removed. But that never happened.
It was estimated that the tug boat weighed 15 tons and the system of rails and wagons was constructed accordingly. But when trying to get Bjønn over, one feared that the whole system would break down. Bjønn was put back in the water, and it turned out from the boat building factory that Bjønn weighed 24,5 tons.
Bjønn stayed in lake Sperillen for a few years, and was then sold to the Halden district.
The boat transport system removed
Norways only boat transport system of this kind with rails and wagons is now removed, probably in 2005 or 2006. During the later years the system has been used very little or not at all. But it is sad that such a transport system of historical value is now gone.
The wagons are gone, the winch house is gone and the ditches for the wires are filled with concret.
Only the rails up from the water on both sides of the dam are still visible.
The dam without wich house
The dam without wich house
The wagons on land
The wagons on land
© pictures by Jahn Børe Jahnsen, 2006
Ångfartyget Bægna i Killingstrømmens sluss omkring 1907.
The steam boat Bægna went between Hen and Sørum 1863-1929. Bægna had great difficulties when the water level was low, and the lock that was built at the southern end of lake Sperillen 1906 made the traffic easier.
In 1896 another steam boat Spirillen went into traffic. This steam boat was bigger and went a little deeper, so Spirillen could not follow schedule for as many days as Bægna. In 1908 Spirillen was taken apart and transported on the railway from Hen to Krøderen, where it was put into traffic on lake Krøderen up to Gulsvik in connection with the building of the Bergen railway. In 1909 Spirillen went out of use, it sank but was taken up again and broken up.
Bægna continued between Hen and Sørum until 1929, when it was replaced by a small motor boat Begna until 1932. 60 years of uninterrupted inland boat traffic had come to an end.
Sources: Jahn Børe Jahnsen, Fagernes, Norge, 2003. Pål Ulsteen, 2005. Foreningen til Bægnavassdragets regulering jubileumsbok vid 75-årsjubileet. Several internet-sites.
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This page was modified at 12-08-06