Schwarzenberg Floating Canal

Schwarzenberg Floating Canal
The Schwarzenberg Floating Canal - one of the most remarkable water structures of its times - was built to transport timber and logs from the Šumava to the Vienna market, thus enabling utilization of the timber abundance from the formerly inaccessible parts of the Šumava forests.
The floating canal was designed by engineer Josef Rosenauer (1735-1804), an employee of the manorial administration of the Schwarzenberg estates seating in Český Krumlov.
Construction of the Schwarzenberg Floating Canal proceeded very quickly. The first section of 29,3 km from the Zwettelbach stream to the Rasovka stream (Hefenkriegbach) flowing into the Vltava nearby Hory was built in only one year. In 1791 the canal was brought to the Jezerní stream out-flowing from the Plešné Lake, which became a reservoir of water discharged as needed for floating. In 1793 the canal bed was extended up to the Jelení stream nearby Jelení Vrchy, thus completing the whole first section of the canal (later called "the old canal") of the total of 39,9 km. The first uninterrupted timber floating along the whole length of the canal was carried out in 1791.
Intensified logging following completion of the floating canal provoked the need for labour power in the area of the upper Šumava forest districts. This is the reason why forest workers, in particular woodcutters with their families, headed for the region and founded new settlements here upon authorization of the lords of the manor estates. It was right in this period that the villages of Huťský Dvůr, Nová Pec, Jelení Vrchy, Stožec, Nové Údolí and many others, with the typical architecture of the mountainous timbered houses, were founded.
Good sales of timber and ever increasing consumption led to the idea to complete the canal according to the originally designed project and make accessible further areas of the forests for timber exploitation. The second part of the canal from the Jelení stream to the Bavarian borders beneath Třístoličník (Three Stool Mount), including the 419 m long tunnel beyond Jelení, was built in 1821-1822. The construction was managed by the director of the Schwarzenberg estates administration Arnolt Mayer and by the engineers Josef Falta and Jan Kraus according to the Rosenauer's project. The first timber floating along "the new canal" took place in 1824. Total length of the waterway  after connection of both the canal sections, from the Mühl river mouth into the Danube to the Světlá Voda stream, stretched to 89,7 km. The canal was fed from 21 streams. The artificial water reservoir Jelení Lake was built in 1835 and the reservoirs Roseanauerova nádrž and Říjiště followed soon in. Three water chutes ran into the canal: Jelení chute of 1,3 km, Jezerní chute of 0,9 km and Koňský chute of 1,4 km. The whole extensive water structure was complemented with 87 bridges and footbridges, 80 sluices, 78 water moats and 22 water gates
Only a shorter part of the canal was still used in the 20th century. Timber was transported by the Želnavský chute till 1962, when the waterway definitely stopped to serve its purpose. The Schwarzenberg Floating Canal has been listed amongst the immovable cultural monuments of technical importance since 1963. The Administration of the Šumava National Park and Protected Landscape Area carried out extensive reconstruction of this unique structure in 1999-2001, restoring the sections from Jelení Vrchy to the Želnavský chute of almost 11 km and from the Světlá voda stream to the Stocký stream of a little less than 2 km. These restored canal parts adapted for timber floating complemented formerly renewed canal sections at the Czech-Austrian border nearby the borderline stream Ježová/Iglvach and on the slope beneath the Austrian village of Morau.


Mapový systém, (c) Planstudio