Construction of the Augustow Canal in the Historical Context:
In 1794, Poland as a state vanished from the map of Europe for over 124 years. During this difficult time, its territory was divided among Austria, Prussia and Russia.
The region of today’s Augustów was part of the so-called Kingdom of Poland, which was created during the Congress of Vienna and then belonged to the Tsar of Russia, Alexander I.
The idea to build the Augustów Canal was a response to Prussian policy, which aim was to impose customs duties on goods floated from the Kingdom of Poland towards the Baltic Sea. Russian Tsar, Alexander I, at the request of the Minister of the Treasury of the Kingdom of Poland, Prince Franciszek Drucki-Lubecki, agreed to consider building an alternative route to the sea along the Narew River.
In 1823, two missions were sent to check the feasibility of the idea. In 1824, the Tsar approved the proposed route suggested by the military engineer General Ignacy Prądzyński.
In the same year (1824), the regulation of the Biebrza and Netta rivers was undertaken, and brickyards, steelworks and iron foundries, blacksmiths, locksmiths and carpentry workshops were prepared to start work. Special technology was also developed using artificial hydraulic lime (Vicat system).
In 1825, the construction of locks began. The Augustów Canal was the cradle of the Polish cement and bitumen industry. For the first time in Poland, and perhaps in Europe, prefabricated concrete was used in its construction. All construction work was completed in 1839.
The historical twists of fate caused the investment to lose its significance. The canal was used mainly for floating timber, and thanks to this, it has remained largely unchanged to this day.