The Upperud river, running from the lake Vänern as far as Lake Stora Lee in the southwest of Värmland, was enlarged during the years 1864 –1868, in its first stages of development, with the building of locks from Köpmannebro to Lennartsfors, and was called Dalsland’s Canal. Through this undertaking movement of industrial freight to the industries on the canal was simplified.
The canal has today 21 locks as far as Bengtsfors and Lake Lelången, and at Lennartsfors there are another three locks up to Lake Stora Le. The difference in water level between Lake Vänern and Lake Stora Le is 58 metres. The length of the locks in Dalsland is 22,75 metres, the width is 4,05 metres and the depth is 1,80 metres. The length of the canal from Lake Vänern to Lake Stora Le is 80 kilometres.
Before the existence of the canal, from the beginning of the 17th century until about 1870, iron industry was pursued at several places along the river. The iron ore came manly from Bergslagen and was shipped by boat across Lake Vänern to Upperud and from there transported by road. At Upperud there was in these days Dalsland’s largest industry, a steel mill with nine hammers and three saw mills. The country’s first German forge was constructed in 1664, between Lake Upperudshöljen and Lake Spången by Councilman Paul Rokes of Gothenburg. By the end of 1600’s Upperud had been granted forging rights for 450 skeppund, which equals approximately 765 tons per year. The foundry, which until 1840 was Dalsland’s largest, was shut down in 1871 after 200 years of operation, but in 1866 a paper pulp factory had been constructed, which in turn was shut down at the end of the 1950’s. At Glyxhult, 2,5 kilometres north of Håverud, a blast furnace was constructed about 1640.
Sawmills and timber floating were industries of considerable size in those days. By the streams at Upperud and Håverud salmon fishing was common. These waterfalls were at the beginning of the 19th cenuty owned by Baron Henry S:t Cyr, Countess Ulla Ramel, and District Judge Wolrath Ulfsparre.
At Upperud there has been a roller mill, a grinding mill, a sawmill, a brickyard, a boat yard, a straw braiding school and a large farm. Remembrances from those days are for instance Upperud Mansion and the four blacksmith houses with adjoining buildings. After the steel works were moved the paper industry was introdused along the canal, and at Upperud and Håverud.
At Håverud Alexander Halling in 1880 founded Håfreströms Aktiebolag in order to produce pulp from its own pulp mill. In 1890 a paper machine for newspaper was installed. In the middle of the 1950’s about 190 people were working at the mill in Håverud. In 1974 the manufacturing of paper and pulp was discontinued at the mill here and was moved to the factory at Åsensbruk, which since 1983 has been owned by Munkedals AB.
As early as in 1891 the mill at Håverud had electric light produced by its own generator which supplied 80 carbon filament lamps, each 16 watts and a voltage of 110 volts direct current.
The owner of Upperud at that time, Axel R Jansson, had in 1896 a 110-volt generator installed which supplied Upperud with electric light. The power station at Håverud was built during the years 1905 to 1908 with two generators. The turbines were powered by a 230 metres long tunnel from Lake Åklången. The power station delivered 3000 kilowatts at a water influx of 45 cubic metres per second. A third generator was installed in 1915.
At Håverud there are four locks with a total change in water level of 10 metres. The grestest tourist attraction of Dalsland’s Canal is without doubt the aqueduct. This is the masterpiece of Baron Nils Ericson. Instead of building a railroad between the lakes he conceived the notion of building locks here as well, and an aqueduct across the stream.
The aqueduct is made of iron and put together 33 000 rivets. It still works without fail and is one of the greatest tourist attractions in Sweden, perhaps even Europe.
In Sweden there is another aqueduct at Göta Canal, built in concrete at the beginning of the 1960’s. It has already been repaired for about a million Sw. Cr. That is about as much as the original cost of building all of Dalsland’s Canal.
The Canal Museum, owned by the archaeological society of Skållerud, was until 1968 the office of Håfreströms AB. Here has been established a Canal Museum and an Archaeological Museum. The history of the canal is shown through exhibited objects, photos, account books and interesting documents.
The technical department is housed in the former machine wash hall, where there has been assembled and kept old and unique dry streaming machines, motors etc.