NORWAY: The Telemark Canal – the wonderful waterway (UiO ISS excursion part 2)

The Telemark Canal was dubbed “the 8th wonder of the world” by the rest of Europe when it was completed in 1892. It took 500 men and five years to etch it in the Norwegian mountains, running 105 kilometers from Skien to Dalen. 18 locks link several long lakes in the Skien watershed. This waterway had been used to transport people, domestic animals, goods and timber. At present, tourists can take riverboats to experience the 10-hour trip from Dalen to Skien, with several docking stations along the way.

Vrangfoss locks
On the way to Vrangfoss locks
A red building next to Vrangfoss locks
Welcome to Vrangfoss locks!

Our second stop during the University of Oslo ISS excursion last summer was the Telemark Canal, particularly the Vrangfoss locks. It is the biggest (and the most beautiful!) staircase locks in the waterway, consisting of five chambers with a total lifting height of 23 meters! One can’t stop but wonder how on earth boats could pass through this staircase of locks! I did not waste any second and took photographs of the waterway and the waterfalls and the pond below while waiting for the passing of the tourists-loaded riverboat, Henrik Ibsen.

Vrangfoss locks
Vrangfoss locks
Vrangfoss locks

And here’s the Vrangfoss. The waters are so stubborn that it was difficult to transport timber here in ancient times. But thanks to the canal and the locks, it became a stress-free feat! This waters are a source of hydropower at present.

Vrangfoss, the stubborn falls!
Just me and the Vrangfoss (foss = waterfall)
Just me and the Vrangfoss (foss = waterfall)
Look! A rainbow!

At the bottom of the staircase locks, the waterway becomes quiet and still — perfect after a thrilling ride, I suppose!

Bottom of the stairscase locks

It was an amazing experience to see the passing of the riverboat, Henrik Ibsen, through the Vrangfoss lock in Telemark . Even after over a hundred of years, the unique watercourse still functions, and the management well-maintained the lock, such that everything is authentic! If you’re wondering about how to book the riverboat, the prices and timetables, etc, click here. So, are you ready?

The riverboat Henrik Ibsen comes!
The lock opens
The passing of Henrik Ibsen riverboat along Vrangfoss locks
Henrik Ibsen riverboat passes

I know the photos are kind of… missing something. So, here’s a video showing the passing of the riverboat Henrik Ibsen. It takes time to empty the chamber, open the gate, and let the boat pass on to the next chamber which is lower. This is genius!


When the construction of the waterway was completed in 1892, the Teknisk Ugeblad (Technical Magazine) called it ” a work of art which will bear perpetual witness to the skill of our engineers; it is this feat of engineering that will to the traveler be most fascinating and memorable”. True enough, I was completely awed and impressed by the whole thing. 😉

At around 3 in the afternoon, we left the locks and headed on to where we would be staying for the night. More about that in the next entry. This is all for now. Cheers to Norwegian innovation! #spreadlove

Vrangfoss locks



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