The history of Kinda kanal
Ever since 1871 the Kinda kanal has been an important and beautiful passage through the heart of Östergötland. As a transport route between the forested regions of the south and the agricultural plains in the north, the canal created totally new opportunities for commerce and communication – and for the development of Linköping.
A canal in the river Stångån was already being planned in the 1750s. The advantages were many. In the forested Kinda countryside there were building materials, pitch, tar and wood that could be transported by boat to the plains. The Kinda inhabitants themselves needed a better and quicker route to town, and additionally the project could make the lowering of the lake-water level possible to get more arable land. In 1810 the first part of the canal was inaugurated between lakes Åsunden and Stora Rängen. A couple of years later, Brokind Lock collapsed as a result of a construction fault, the canal company went bankrupt and the boat traffic ceased.
A new start
For Linköping, which had long been a relatively isolated inland town, development had so far been slow. But in 1832 the Göta Canal opened and suddenly the whole world was within reach. Now there was also access to new knowledge on waterways and skilled labour. It was high time to resurrect the Kinda canal project. After years of planning and calculating, the work started, and in 1861 the vessel S/S General Boy sailed for the first time between Åby and Labbenäs.
In to town
For the next stretch of the canal towards Linköping a number of locks were constructed at the River Stång falls. From Lake Roxen in towards the town the channel needed to be straightened and dredged and another lock built at Nykvarn. In the year 1863 the Kinda Canal Limited Company was founded and two years later the work was underway. In July of 1871 the Kinda Canal was totally complete, and it was reported that five steamboats already plied the waterway. From then to the turn of the century the shipping along the canal was at its height. Trade flourished and new industries sprang up.
Land transport took over
In 1902 the Östra Centralbanan railway line opened between Linköping, Kinda and Vimmerby. Here the trains ran nearly parallel with the boats on the Kinda Canal – but considerably faster. When the road system was later built up, bus and lorry transport increased. It was the beginning of the end for the previously so intensive canal traffic, and after the 1950s it basically ceased completely.
The canal lives
The river Stångån and Kinda kanal have been one of the most important sources of Linköping’s vigorous expansion and the Kinda district’s development. Today the canal is a culturally historic valuable environment of national interest, a frequently visited tourist attraction and a beautiful experience. Recently the lock installations and lock-keeper’s housing have been renovated, and surrounding cultural buildings taken care of. The Kinda kanal is now owned by Östergötland Region, Linköping Municipality and Kinda Municipality. Together we work to maintain and preserve the canal for the future.
S/S Kinda at Hackefors lock circa 1910
Photograph: Sjöhistoriska muséet
Crane in the mist at Linköping harbour in 1949.
Photograph: Arne Gustafsson
Mills by the falls in Tannefors.
Photograph: Didrik Von Essen, 1900. Östergötlands Museum
View towards Linköping from the lock-keeper’s house. Postcard from circa 1910.
Photograph: Bild Linköping
Harbour in Linköping.
Postcard dated the 7th October 1892
Photograph: Bild Linköping
Lock staircase in Hovetorp in 1896
Photograph: Lars Fredrik Lovén, Östergötlands Museum